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Friday, Jun 02, 2023

Lawmaker questions MTR's performance achievements

The MTR Corp's stated performance achievements did not reflect realities when incidents affected hundreds of thousands of passengers, said legislator Gary Zhang Xinyu, a former engineer with the majority government-owned rail operator.
At a legislative council motion debate on enhancing public transport services yesterday, Zhang said MTRC claims its trains arrived at stations on time 99.9 percent of the time failed to measure its performance by the number of passengers affected by disruptions.

The operator's annual report states it attained a 99.9 percent on-time rate and saw eight service delays in 2022, providing reasons for two incidents in November and December last year. But it did not mention how many passengers were affected by the delays.

Zhang proposed the MTR add a service indicator that takes into account the number of passengers caught in delays.

In November, about 750 passengers at Yau Ma Tei station were evacuated from a train that had its doors ripped off after a derailment caused by a fallen metal barrier.

Services were suspended between Lai King and Jordan stations for 15 hours, and 150 passengers were forced to walk through the tunnel to Mong Kok station.

In December, over 1,500 passengers on a train near Tseung Kwan O station were evacuated after a coupler malfunction activated its emergency braking mechanism. Morning rush-hour services between Tiu Keng Leng and Po Lam were disrupted for four hours.

Zhang said figures across different years could be compared with each other, and such an indicator could be applied to other public transport.

"What gets measured gets done," he said, adding that only with effective standards would services be improved.

Zhang also urged the administration to improve information transparency to enhance people's right to monitor public transport services, thereby enhancing performance.

He cited the MTR's refusal to provide data on passenger traffic on the Tseung Kwan O line during peak hours on the grounds such information is "a trade secret," though a 2009 legislative paper states the operator must provide such figures when asked.

"Authorities should make public the investigation reports of serious incidents, learn from the experience and make continuous improvements," he added.

Responding to Zhang's remarks, Secretary for Transport and Logistics Lam Sai-hung said the Transport Department will monitor the MTR performances in terms of usage, lost trips, complaints and accident rates.

And in a written reply to Zhang, Liu Chun-san, the undersecretary for transport and logistics, said authorities have been "closely monitoring" performances.
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