China Motor Bus: The Hong Kong I Remember

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China Motor Bus once ruled Hong Kong island with their loud, blue, non-air conditioned busses, offering terrible service. This is the Hong ...

China Motor Bus once ruled Hong Kong island with their loud, blue, non-air conditioned busses, offering terrible service. This is the Hong Kong I remember.

By Karn G. Bulsuk


The Hong Kong I remember was still ruled by China Motor Bus (CMB). The company with the blue busses were universally known throughout Hong Kong for their notorious reputation. The drivers were to be feared: rude, obnoxious and, just for fun, would occasionally run a red light or two. They wore short sleeved blue uniforms and white gloves, which would have long turned a shade of light brown after daily use.

Entering through the small, glass doors, they would glare at you as they ordered you to get on the bus quickly, impatiently pushing the lever on the coin box over and over to make sure your $1.20 fare would drop to join the other coins below.

The drivers were not the nicest people in the world. They would scream upstairs if they saw you doing something bad. If they, for example, glanced up at their prism box and saw kids playing around upstairs on the second floor, or if he shut the door before you could get off your stop, it would warrant a stream of verbal abuse even after you left the bus. Of note would be the White Man, whom some drivers loved to insult and call "gwai lo".

When driving, they would flick the tiny gear boxes with vigor from one gear to another, as they push the machine to its limits. The bus would lurch as they changed gears, watching the Hong Kong scenery pass by as quickly as the second-hand bus would go. Reaching Garden Road, the bus would not fare so well and would slowly groan up at a snail's pace, the deafening noise of the engines resounding inside the entire bus.

During the long, hot and wet summers, where humidity levels would reach 100%, the heat from the bus would cause your bottom to stick to the dark blue, plastic lined seats. Opened windows would offer little respite from the oppressive heat.

Back then there was no air conditioning, no Octopus and certainly no comfortable seats. And consumers and the government took notice, making sure CMB didn't renew their franchise and in 1998, disappeared from the bus market.

Today Citybus and New World First Bus may provide a much comfortable ride, but for those of us who remember, there was a much simpler time where one bus company ruled them all.

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Karn G. Bulsuk: Full Speed Ahead: China Motor Bus: The Hong Kong I Remember
China Motor Bus: The Hong Kong I Remember
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Karn G. Bulsuk: Full Speed Ahead
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