Institute for Transport Studies (ITS)

Hong Kong country profile

by Ching Kam Cheong, MSc Transport Planning and Engineering (1985)

Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated areas in the world. The lack of space caused demand for denser constructions, which developed the world's most vertical city. The dense space also led to a highly developed transportation network with the public transport trip rate exceeding 90%, the highest in the world.

Ching Kam Cheong

I am currently one of two Deputies to the Commissioner for Transport, responsible for directing and overseeing the Technical Services Office, Transport Planning Office and Regional Traffic Management Office. I assist the Commissioner in the formulation of transport policies on planning, traffic management, road safety, intelligent transport initiatives and applications. I am also head of about 150 Transport Engineers.

The current key transport challenges in Hong Kong are to provide a safe, reliable, efficient and environmentally friendly transport system for the general transport needs of the community and for the economic development of the city of Hong Kong, against the constraint of scarce land (small and hilly terrain comprising of many islands with total area of 1100km2) and a rapidly expanding population (7 million).

"There is also a greater emphasis on the need for a green environment and public engagement on new transport infrastructures".

The major transport initiatives currently underway include the construction of a 30km road bridge across the Pearl River delta linking Hong Kong, Macao and Zhuhai at an estimated cost of RMB38 billion for completion in 2016 (which is being jointly undertaken by the local government authorities of Hong Kong SAR, Macao SAR and Zhuhai). There are other associated mega works amount to billions of Hong Kong dollars comprising of link roads and boundary control facilities. There is an express rail link between Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, 26km, at an estimated cost of HK$55 billion, for completion in 2015. There is a 13km expansion of the railway network within Hong Kong, at an estimated cost of HK$33 billion to be completed by 2015. Further even larger scale expansion projects are in the pipeline.

Since my career started in the Transport Department in 1982 I have derived much satisfaction and pride in undertaking a facilitating role in major infrastructure projects in different stages. I have made concerted efforts in the promotion of road safety improvement works whereby annual traffic accident fatalities were reduced from a record high of 474 in 1981 to 117 in 2010. I was orchestral in the introduction and improvement of pedestrianised streets and the reduction in pedestrian accidents. In addition to the application of intelligent transport systems to integration, collection and dissemination of traffic data for public information, aiming at raising the efficiency of traffic and incident management I am also involved in a current project to set up an integrated traffic and incident management centre with an estimated cost of HK$100 million.

"Hong Kong is a world class city in line with international standards in all aspects of its transport development and infrastructure provisions. As I see it, the future development in the transport scene will be on globalization, sustainability and the application of intelligent transport systems".

Implementation and public engagement is of paramount importance to the successful delivery of transport projects. I believe that skills gained from ITS will be highly demanded in Hong Kong as in any countries in the world.

The most interesting thing about Hong Kong is its high population on a scarce piece of land. The result is that developments and economic activities are highly integrated and intensive at transport hubs. The public transport system is provided entirely through privatization. The railway is the backbone of the public transport system, supplemented by buses, trams, taxis, mini-buses, ferries, etc, with up to 11 million passenger trips taken by public transport.

Vehicle construction technology has advanced but the marked improvements on road infrastructure and continuous efforts on legislation and public education also deserve their due recognition.