On 13 April 1933, Tang Shiu Kin, William Louey Sui Tak, Lui Leung, Tam Woon Tong and Lam Ming Fan established The Kowloon Motor Bus Company (1933) Limited (KMB), which was granted the right to operate franchised bus services in Kowloon and the New Territories. There were 106 small single-deck buses in the embryonic KMB bus fleet, offering two classes of seats, namely first class (with cushion) and second class (without cushion) wooden seats.
By the time of the Japanese occupation in December 1941, KMB had 140 buses operating on 17 routes. With its buses requisitioned by the occupying force, KMB operations came to a virtual standstill, with just two routes still running in 1944. By February 1946, in order to resume a full service to the community as soon as possible, KMB converted some second-hand military trucks to carry passengers. At the same time, the class seating was abolished.
After the war, the population of Hong Kong soared. To handle the increased demand for its services, KMB supplemented its fleet with 20 Daimler A buses from England, becoming in the process the first bus company to introduce double-deckers to Hong Kong.
KMB established bus stops on all its countryside routes on roads where previously passengers could get on or off buses as they wished. One year later, the Daimler A buses were fitted with front doorways and sliding metal gates, operated by conductors.
Owing to a large influx of immigrants from the Mainland, the population has risen to 2.5 million, a more efficient transport system was required. This led to the further development of KMB routes in the urban Kowloon area, which by the end of the decade was home to 28 bus routes. During the late 1950s, KMB started its employee development programme, and designated experienced bus captains as driving instructors for trainee bus captains.
KMB was listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange (stock code 62) enabling further business expansion.
A purpose built bus depot cum headquarters building was constructed in Po Lun Street, Lai Chi Kok, centralizing daily operations and bus servicing and maintenance.
With the completion of the cross-harbour tunnel in 1972, the KMB network expanded into Hong Kong Island. In the same year, fare collection boxes were installed to replace conductors, with the bus captain in sole charge of the bus.
KMB introduced the first of its new-style urban routes. This was followed by the first shuttle between Hong Kong's International Airport (then at Kai Tak) and Central District on Hong Kong Island.
In line with the government's plans to develop New Towns, KMB expanded their network in the western New Territories, Tuen Mun Depot commencing operations in 1979.
With the establishment of the Mass Transit Railway (MTR) and the Kowloon-Canton Railway (KCR) (merged into the MTR in 2007) in the 1980s, KMB's business underwent rapid growth, as it reorganised its route structure and introduced bus routes to connect with the railway services. In 1982, KMB introduced its first "express" routes (14X and 15X), designed to operate a point-to-point service.
KMB's Overhaul Centre, listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest multi-story bus depot in the world, became operational.
The first air-conditioned double-deck buses were introduced by KMB, leading bus services into a new era.
KMB also established its Bus Captain Training School at Sha Tin to provide comprehensive training for its bus captains.
KMB became the first public bus company in Hong Kong to install the environment-friendly Euro I bus engine, meeting the emission standards laid down by European countries.
KMB introduced the Euro II engine to its bus fleet. KMB was active in exploring and applying advanced technology to its bus facilities, including the Electronic Bus Stop Announcement system on buses, and electronic display panels and CCTV monitoring systems at bus termini.
Long Win Bus Company Limited (LWB) was granted a franchise by the government to operate bus services to Hong Kong International Airport and Tung Chung New Town, commencing operations the following year.
After restructuring in 1997, The Kowloon Motor Bus Holdings Limited was established and became the ultimate holding company of the KMB Group. It comprised five divisions: franchised public bus operations, non-franchised transport operations, China Mainland operations, non-transport operations, and internal financial services.
First introduced for trials in 1996, super-low floor easy access double-deck buses have been part of KMB's fleet since 1998, improving accessibility for all passengers, particularly the disabled and elderly.
KMB became the first public bus company in Hong Kong to implement ISO quality systems throughout its entire organisation.
KMB had equipped all its buses with Octopus Card readers.
In the same year, KMB introduced Hong Kong's first Multi-media On-board (MMOB) buses offering infotainment to passengers.
Since 2001, all KMB buses have been using ultra-low sulphur diesel – a milestone for the industry, as KMB became the operator of the largest bus fleet powered by green fuel in the Asia-Pacific. KMB also deployed the first bus in Hong Kong to be equipped with the Euro III engine.
In line with KMB's commitment to adhere to the highest possible standards of quality and environmental management, Sha Tin Depot received ISO 14001 certification in 2001.To make it easier for passengers to identify boarding and alighting locations, all 4,000 KMB bus stops were given Chinese and English names.
To enhance the waiting environment for our passengers, KMB built Hong Kong's first air-conditioned passenger waiting lounge at Lam Tin Bus Terminus in 2002. KMB also built Hong Kong's first cyber bus stops, providing bus route information, as well as news, weather forecasts, financial news and latest traffic conditions, through LED display panels and a public address system. The cyber bus stops also enable customers to access the KMB website via a microcomputer.
KMB also successfully developed the pioneering Eco-Driveline on buses. The new system improves engine efficiency and reduces exhaust emissions.
KMB again made history by introducing two new bus models, namely the Wright Bus and the Super Bus, offering a new air-conditioning system with enhanced circulation inside the bus compartment, a wider bus saloon and entry way, and a revolutionary straight staircase. The new features provide passengers with a more comfortable interior environment and easier access to and from the upper deck.
KMB's Tyre Retreading Plant, the largest tyre retreading operation in Hong Kong, marked the production of the 500,000th retreaded bus tyre in September 2003.As KMB's new Lai Chi Kok Depot obtained ISO 14001 certification, KMB proved once more its firm commitment to operating in an environment-friendly manner.
Electronic Terminus Management system was developed in-house by KMB to enable terminus supervisors to use Personal Data Assistants (PDAs) to record large volume of operational data. This system helps KMB enhance operational efficiency, as well as saving paper.
KMB introduced the world's first state-of-the-art Super Single Tyre for double-deck buses resulting in wide ranging cost and efficiency advantages. This is another example of KMB's commitment to improving bus services through the adoption of the most up-to-date products and technologies.
KMB introduced two Super-Intelligent buses, equipped with a fully-integrated electronic network system to enhance bus monitoring and maintenance and to make the bus journeys more comfortable for passengers.
KMB once again lead the industry by introducing the "Enhanced" air-conditioning system on its new buses. Combining heating and cooling systems, intelligent temperature control and a viable compressor, the system monitors and controls the temperature and humidity inside buses.
The Kowloon Motor Bus Holdings Limited was renamed Transport International Holdings Limited, demonstrating the Group's vision to become a world-class public transport innovator in the Greater China region.
KMB was granted a new franchise by the Government to continue the provision of franchised public bus services. KMB became the first public transport company in Hong Kong to introduce the Digital Map Passenger Enquiry System at the multi-media kiosks in its customer service centres, providing a convenient way for passengers to find their way to their destinations.
KMB led the industry again by introducing Asia's first two Euro IV environment-friendly double-deck buses to Hong Kong.
KMB's four main depots at Kowloon Bay, Lai Chi Kok, Sha Tin and TuenMun were certified by the Hong Kong Q-Mark Council of the Federation of Hong Kong Industries as meeting the prescribed Hong Kong Green Mark Standard for the provision of franchised bus services, as well as the maintenance and repair of buses. KMB's first boundary service, Route B1, running between Yuen Long West Rail Station and Lok Ma Chau Spur Line Bus Terminus, was launched. This new route has enabled KMB to expand its bus service to meet the growing demand for transport between Hong Kong and Shenzhen.
To facilitate passengers' search for route information at bus stops, KMB introduced multi-sided, rotating route information bus stop panels, which provide more space for displaying route information than the original panels.
KMB adopted the newly introduced "Euro V Diesel" in its bus fleet. The sulphur content of Euro V Diesel is only 0.001%, which is five times lower than the sulphur content of ultra-low sulphur diesel.
KMB was the first enterprise in Hong Kong to participate in the fluorescent tube recycling campaign. By 2008, it had successfully collected the 200,000th fluorescent tube. KMB also implemented green procurement. By means of an E-tendering system developed in-house, paper consumption has been greatly reduced in the tendering process. KMB also takes environmental concerns into consideration when purchasing materials and services.
KMB introduced Asia's first double-deck bus with a Euro V engine. By effectively reducing the emissions of nitrogen oxides, the Euro V engine meets the latest and toughest emission standards in the world, contributing to a cleaner environment.
KMB introduces the Hong Kong's first Euro V two-axle E-friendly bus to Hong Kong. Apart from the installation of the most advanced Euro V engine, the KMB Euro V two-axle E-friendly bus is also the first double-deck air-conditioned bus in Hong Kong with a two-axle design, combining the latest technology with enhanced environment-friendly features. This represents a major milestone in Hong Kong's bus development.
KMB launched the iPhone app, which informs passengers of KMB bus routes and the corresponding bus-stop locations anytime, anywhere. It provides suggestions on bus routes with the fewest en-route stops and lowest fare to any destination they select. The app also features the pioneering “Alight Reminder” function for greater peace of mind.
To promote a culture of caring passengers, KMB has launched a “priority seats” scheme. The priority seats are equipped with a newly-designed headrest for easy recognition. On-board publicity raises public awareness of the scheme and encourages more passengers to offer their seats to people in need.
KMB rolled out the TuenMun Road Bus-Bus Interchange Scheme providing TuenMun residents with time- and money-saving services. The interchange features the pioneering Estimated Time of Arrival System, which notifies passengers of the next bus arrival time.
KMB’s Operations Division was awarded Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series (OHSAS) 18001 certification by the HKQAA.
Following a "PrioritySeats" trial scheme in 2011, KMBlaunched the scheme fleet-wide to promote a culture of caring for passengers.
KMB rolled out the Smartphone App Version 2,which allows passengers to access real-time traffic information and conduct route searches by map or major landmark.
KMB celebrated its 80th Anniversary Anniversary with a carnival at Sha Tin Depot, a special exhibition at the Hong Kong Museum of History and the publication of a book on the company’s history and development.
KMB implemented bus route reorganisation in Northern District and part of Tuen Mun. Passengers in ND enjoy faster and more direct bus services to other regions as new express routes and frequent feeder bus services to bus interchanges were introduced. Tuen Mun Bus-Bus Interchange provides passengers with more interchange concessions.
KMB introduced the new generation of E500 Euro V air-conditioned double-deck bus, offering passengers a more environment-friendly bus type, boasting more safety features as well as giving a more comfortable ride.
Introduced by KMB, eBus, Hong Kong's first ever franchised battery-powered electric bus, has been put into service starting September for a one-month trial.
KMB continued to strengthen and enhance its bus route network through bus route reorganization that was successfully implemented in Yuen Long, Tai Po, Sha Tin and Tsing Yi.
KMB launched the first multifunctional “KMB Customer Service Centre” at the Tai Lam Tunnel Interchange (Yuen Long-bound) for trial in order to provide more customised services during busy journeys. The new KMB Customer Service Centre provides passengers with services such as the Octopus Card add-value service, the chance to buy daily items and free Wi-Fi. KMB also introduced the“KMB and LW Smartphone App” Beta Test on Estimated Bus Arrival Time providing real-time bus trip information to facilitate journey planning.
Marking a milestone for a more environment-friendly fleet, KMB introduced Hong Kong’s first double-deck bus powered by a Euro VI hybrid engine, “hBus”, which entered passenger service to serve three urban routes.
As a sign of continuously upgrading the fleet, KMB retired the last batch of air-conditioned buses with the “3+2” seating layout. After the retirement, all KMB buses have the wider “2+2” layout of seating. Furthermore, the first of KMB’s new 12.8-metre buses, the longest bus in Hong Kong, entered passenger service in August, serving Route 73X.
KMB provided an Estimated Time of Arrival service to all regular routes operated solely by KMB and LWB. Through the mobile phone app and the KMB and LWB websites, or the display panels installed at bus stops, passengers may obtain bus arrival information to facilitate journey planning.
The Tsing Sha Highway Interchange commenced operations, bringing a more comprehensive bus network to Sha Tin.
KMB bid farewell to the world’s first super-low floor double-deck bus, that marked the beginning of the era of easy access buses, after 18 years of service.
KMB renovated and upgraded working areas such as duty dispatch offices and rest areas in depots and set up discount shops and barber shops, which have proven popular among our staff with their exclusive discounts.