A personal dialogue with
Deputy Managing Director
The Kowloon Motor Bus Co. (1933) Ltd.
- Could you tell us your experience working in the field of public transport?
[Mr. Auyang] “I actually didn’t start directly in the transport field. I started working in the transportation sector while I was a consultant in McKinsey’s transportation & infrastructure practice (I was at McKinsey from 2001 to 2009). At that time, I served railway clients quite extensively, both in Hong Kong and in Mainland China, while also working on infrastructure and logistics. One of the most interesting projects that I led was figuring out how the vast amount of coal and iron ore could effectively move in Mainland China.
My current job as Deputy Managing Director of KMB and Transport International is highly focused on buses and bus operations. Since I believe Hong Kong is showing real emerging signs of weaknesses in its public transport system (e.g. bus service delivery is made to be less and less efficient, driven by external factors such as congestion), I spend a lot of time studying policy-making in international cities to hopefully provide advice to legislators, district councilors and the government to evolve our future policy.”
- What makes you believe in public transport?
[Mr. Auyang] “Hong Kong is a public transport city and KMB is the largest bus operator in the city, carrying over 2.6 million passengers per day. We believe this is a huge responsibility as the public is depended on us for their mobility needs. Our ability to deliver fast, reliable and value for money services affects not people’s livelihoods but social cohesion.
For public transport to develop properly, the single most important factor is for politicians and citizens to buy in the fact that public transport (in mass form) needs to be prioritized. In order to facilitate the most people moving quickly for limited and space in a city, space must be made to build railways, bus lanes, etc. Private cars and other less efficient transport modes must have lowest priority and discouraged. But not every city’s policy, including Hong Kong, facilities this as much as we should – Hong Kong’s private cars growth in the past 10 years has been staggering. This is a very worrying trend.”
- UITP practices the belief of “Grow with Public Transport”. How does it relate to your role?
[Mr. Auyang] “My role in KMB is to promote the use of buses and the use of PT in general. I can clearly see the worrying trend of Hong Kong’s increasing use of private cars and the inadequate policy commitment to stem this growth. Although Hong Kong cannot necessarily aim for PTx2 since PT is already used so widely, PT share can continue to gain if various forms of PT could work well together, especially railways and buses.”
- During your many years of work in the field of public transport, what had been the biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?
[Mr. Auyang] “The biggest challenge is educating the public and policy makers to realize that even though Hong Kong is high performing PT system, it is showing many signs of weakness. I do feel that Hong Kong is becoming not only complacent about the strength of PT but also being over-reliant on railways. Policy-makers do not seem to realize that the railway system cannot solve all transport problems as its reach is inadequate. As road-based public transport would continue to play an important role going forward, we need to get our act together to develop a coherent road-based public transport policy.”
- How do you use UITP to help with your ambition?
[Mr. Auyang] “Via benchmarking, study visits and direct exchanges, UITP is a critical platform for us to reach out to the international arena in understanding best practices.
- What would be the “one phrase” you would advise our young talents to devote their energy to our sector?
[Mr. Auyang] “Study hard to understand the basic concepts right, and always look outside your country/city to learn about best practices adopted elsewhere.”