HONG KONG ? There have in the past been occasional murmers of complaint about the quality of service on our MBTA. Those looking for models for improvement should consider the Hong Kong Mass Transit Railway:
Corporate Organization. The government paid for the initial construction of the system in 1972. After it became fully operational, the company was listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange in 2000. The business has a 50-year exclusive franchise on operation of rail mass transit in Hong Kong. Its principle activities are transit, real estate development connected with its stations, and operation of its smart card payments system. The government owns about 76% of the company. The MTR made a profit of over US$500 million in 2004.
Fares. Fares vary depending on the distance traveled and rangein price from US$0.50 to about $1.75. All payments are made usingelectronic fare cards. The wireless "Octopus" payments card technologyallows debiting from a stored value card simply by waving the card overa reader. The card does not need to be removed from a purse or wallet.Numerous local businesses, from Starbucks to the separate bus company,have adopted this convenient payments technology, which providesrevenue to the MTR.
Service. Over 2.5 million people use the system each weekday. Travel times are extremely reliable and can be calculated in advance.
Cleanliness. The stations and trains are spotless. Automaticclimate control doorways separate train tunnels from platforms; thisincreases safety, and allows stations to be more efficiently heated andcooled.
Displays. Electronic displays in every carriage show the direction of travel and progress of the train from station to station.
Mobile telephones. Work throughout the system.