LCQ10: MTR service

Following is a question by the Hon Tony Tse Wai-chuen and a written reply by the Acting Secretary for Transport and Housing, Yau Shing-mu, in the Legislative Council today (December 4):

Question:

It has been reported that the Beijing Municipal Administration of Quality and Technology Supervision promulgated the "Code for design of urban rail transit" in August this year, stipulating that five persons standing per square metre shall be the appropriate maximum under the design standard for railway train compartments with effect from January 1, 2014. The standard is the same as that for the Russian railways, while the standard for the Japanese railways is set at four persons per square metre. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) whether it knows if the MTR Corporation Limited (MTRCL) has set any specific indicator and target in respect of passenger density in a train compartment, including the requirement on the maximum number of standees per square metre inside a train compartment; if it has, of the details and the criteria by which the indicators and targets were set; if not, the reasons for that, and whether it will make reference to the practices of Beijing and abroad and formulate relevant standards;

(b) as the information provided by the Transport and Housing Bureau has indicated that the maximum railway carrying capacity per hour per direction is currently 85 000 passenger trips for the Kwun Tong Line, the Tsuen Wan Line and the Island Line of MTR, with the average occupancy rate at almost 70 per cent for both morning and afternoon peak hours, whether it knows the passenger density based on which MTRCL has calculated those data;

(c) whether it knows if MTRCL conducts regular reviews and assessments of the crowdedness of train compartments; if it does, of the outcome; if not, the reasons for that, and whether any assessment will be conducted; whether the MTRCL has taken any measure to alleviate the crowdedness of train compartments, as well as the implementation details and effectiveness of the various measures; and

(d) whether it has assessed and by what criteria it has assessed if the current crowdedness of train compartments is at an acceptable level; if the assessment result is in the negative, of the solutions, including whether it will make the crowdedness of train compartments as one of the factors of consideration in the fare adjustment mechanism for MTR?

Reply:

President,

My reply to various parts of the Hon Tony Tse Wai-chuen's question is as follows:

(a) As the MTR is a mass transit system, its design has to cope with the requirement of a large passenger volume. Therefore, at the design stage, a benchmark on passenger density will be set out. This benchmark, however, is not a mandatory stipulation. In the actual operation of the MTR, passengers can choose where to sit and stand freely, and they can also freely pass through different train compartments. As there are numerous train doors, with the frequent boarding and alighting by passengers, their comfort level differs at different locations in the train compartments. During peak hours, passengers will inevitably feel more crowded. On the contrary, during non-peak hours, passengers may feel that the train compartments are more spacious. The MTR Corporation Limited (MTRCL) notices that, during peak hours, passengers may have to wait for more than one train before boarding at particularly busy stations.

(b) The calculation method of the average train loading of MTR during peak hours and its maximum carrying capacity is set out below:

Average train loading [Note] = actual patronage ÷ maximum carrying capacity

Maximum carrying capacity =
carrying capacity per train × number of train trips per hour

(c) and (d) MTRCL is committed to providing a comfortable and reliable railway service for passengers. With a view to alleviating crowdedness on trains and reducing passengers' waiting time, MTRCL added more than 1,200 train trips per week (that is, over 62,000 train trips per year) on busier railway lines vide the launching of the $1 billion "Listening‧Responding" programme last year. This year, MTRCL further enhances train service appropriately on the East Rail Line, Island Line, West Rail Line, Kwun Tong Line and Tsuen Wan Line, etc. to meet the needs of passengers.

Since the launching of the "Listening‧Responding" programme, MTRCL has received much positive feedback from passengers. A survey conducted at the end of last year shows that up to 80 per cent of the 500 interviewees found trains and platforms less crowded, and up to 90 per cent were satisfied with the waiting time for trains.

As mentioned above, passengers' comfort level on train varies according to the different locations in the train compartments and different time of the day during the journey. It cannot be generalised. It is therefore not viable and suitable to set a fixed benchmark as one of the factors to measure MTR train service quality. Hence, it should not be linked to the Fare Adjustment Mechanism.

MTRCL understands that passengers' acceptance towards crowdedness in train compartments may vary. It will closely monitor and respond to passengers' needs. It will also take passengers' travelling patterns and patronage of different areas into consideration when making train service arrangements, in order to provide services that suit passengers' demand. In the long run, the Government will continue to study whether there is a need to develop new railway projects, in order to alleviate the current or potential bottleneck sections, with a view to enhancing the effectiveness of the whole railway network.

Note: Based on the hourly patronage between the two busiest stations of the railway line.

Ends/Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Issued at HKT 12:31