As Hong Kong’s fifth-wave Covid-19 worsens, thousands of employees in the transportation sector have been infected by the disease or placed in quarantine under government measures. In the face of acute staff shortages, train, bus and ferry providers have been forced to cut back services.

Coronavirus virus covid-19 mask bus
Passengers on a bus. Photo: GovHK.

HKFP rounds up the latest changes in public transportation:

104 bus routes to halt on Friday

Citing a “critical manpower shortage,” the Transport Department allowed the city’s five bus companies to temporarily suspend 104 routes from Friday, March 4 until March 16. Ninety-eight were routes “with alternative public transport services available,” five were weekend recreational services, and one was an overnight route. They include:

  • Kowloon Motor Bus (KMB) & Long Win Bus: From Friday, 88 KMB routes will be suspended, including 15 daytime routes and 65 peak-only “express or special routes.” In addition, 46 other routes will limit their services – five are regular daytime routes, 20 are rush-hour only services and 21 are overnight services. The full list of affected services is available here.
Bus Central
Buses in Hong Kong. File photo: GovHK.
  • New World First Bus & Citybus: HKFP reached out to the bus group’s customer service hotline and was told that route 5B and 90 would be among the suspended services from Friday. The full list of affected services will be updated on the company’s website.
  • New Lantao Bus: Bus 37S, which offers services between Tung Chung Ferry Bus Terminus and Tung Chung Station on weekends and public holidays, will temporarily stop services on Friday. The schedule of four other routes will also be adjusted. Full details are accessible here.

Longer peak hour MTR waiting times

In a press release on Wednesday, the MTR Corporation announced that the frequency of train services on eight railway lines during weekdays will be adjusted starting from Friday. The services on the East Rail Line during weekends and public holidays will also see changes.

The transport and property giant cited an “operations staff shortage and drastic reduction[s] in patronage resulting from the pandemic.”

MTR Tai Wai Station
Tai Wai Station in morning peak hours on recent weekdays. Photo: MTR Corporation.

Below are the revised train frequencies of the eight affected lines during peak hours on weekdays:

  • East Rail Line: Trains will arrive every six to seven minutes during morning and evening rush hours, while originally it took less than 3.5 minutes between trains.
  • Tsuen Wan Line: Train frequency will reduce from every two minutes to between three and 3.6 minutes in the morning, and 2.9 to 3.6 minutes in the evening.
  • Kwun Tong Line: Trains will arrive every 3.4 to 3.6 minutes in peak hours of the morning and every 3.1 to 3.6 minutes in that of the evening.
  • Island Line: Every 3.4 to 3.6 minutes, trains will arrive at Island stations during morning peak hours; the frequency will become 3.2 to 3.6 minutes in evening rush hours.
  • South Island Line: Peak hour trains will now arrive every 5.5 to six minutes, increasing from 3.3 minutes in before.
  • Tseung Kwan O Line: Between North Point and Po Lam stations, trains will arrive five minutes in between peak hours. Trains between North Point and LOHAS Park stations will be 10 minutes apart from each other in these hours.
  • Tung Chung Line: During morning rush hour, it will take at maximum seven to 10 minutes to wait for a train. The maximum waiting time will be between seven and eight minutes in the evening.
  • Tuen Ma Line: The train frequency will be every 4.1 to 4.7 minutes within daily peak hours.

Ferries halt some services

The city’s ferry service providers have announced a temporary suspension to four ferry routes, whilst readers are advised to check other ferry schedules owing to reduced services.

lamma ferry
Lamma ferry. File photo: Wikicommons.
  • Sun Ferry: The company’s North Point – Hung Hom and North Point – Kowloon City routes stopped services from Thursday, March 3. The firm said the suspension will last “until further notice.”
  • Fortune Ferry: The Central – Hung Hom ferry service provided by Fortune Ferry was suspended from Thursday; the company’s other North Point – Kwun Tong – Kai Tak ferry route will also stop services from March 8 until further notice.

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Peter Lee is a reporter for HKFP. He was previously a freelance journalist at Initium, covering political and court news. He holds a Global Communication bachelor degree from CUHK.