The impact of public transport policy on the viability and sustainability of mass railway transit - The Hong Kong experience

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

ridership - demand, policy - sustainable, organisation - regulation, mode - rail, mode - mass transit


Viability, Transit, Sustainable development, Sustainability, Supply and demand, Regulatory policy, Regulations, Rail transit, Public transit, Policy, Policies, Operating conditions, Mass transit, Local transit, Land use, Hong Kong (China), Government policy, Control theory, Control


Mass transit railway projects are often a top contender to meet the rapidly increasing travel demand, especially in many Asian cities. The experience of Hong Kong, with a system of highly reputable public transport services, reveals that the viability and sustainability of mass transit railways depend very much on accompanying transport policies and land development strategies. The priority given to public transport and control on the growth of private cars, among others, have laid the foundation for success in Hong Kong over the past quarter of a century. However, the recent shift in transport policy, from emphasizing an integrated public transport system to relaxing the regulations on modal competition, has resulted in an indiscriminate expansion or oversupply of bus and rail services, especially along congested or profitable corridors. Other than creating a difficult operating environment for the operators, road congestion and the burden to expand the roadway infrastructure in order to keep up with congestion are other negative externalities. It is, therefore, imperative that mass transit railway projects are planned with accompanying long-term transport policies to ensure their viability and sustainability.


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