新世界第一巴士 New World First Bus

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作為本港最年輕的專營巴士公司,新世界第一巴士服務有限公司(簡稱「新巴」)成立於一九九八年三月十日,其名字由來源自其組成公司,包括本港新世界發展有限公司,以及當時英國最大的地面運輸機構第一集團,當中前者擁有七成四股權,餘下的則由後者所持有。促成新世界發展與第一集團這次合作,源於服務港島區近六十五年的中華巴士(簡稱「中巴」)服務水平一直為人詬病,即使先後於一九九三年及九五年遭運輸處削減四十多條巴士路線,仍然未見有太大改善,於是當局於一九九八年二月十七日決定不再延續中巴專營權,其中八十八條原由中巴營運的路線將會作公開競投,並於同年九月一日開始交由中標營辦商營運。

經過一輪競逐程序後,相關招標結果於一九九八年三月三十一日公佈,由未有任何營運公共交通經驗的新巴成功獲批相關專營權。當局解釋新巴能夠擊敗其他競爭對手,正正在於其未有任何香港公共交通服務經驗,能夠以一個全新經營者角色營運原中巴網絡路線,符合當局當初招標競投的原意。另外新巴在競投時承諾將會優先聘用中巴的員工,以及向中巴購入現役車隊滿足營運需要,確保兩巴在交接時可能出現的混亂情況減至最少,都是令其得到當局垂青原因。最終憑藉新世界發展的雄厚資本以及第一集團豐富的巴士營運經驗,加上各方面的配合,新巴得以在只有短短半年的籌備時間,順利從中巴手接管經營有關巴士服務。

成功投得中巴八十八條路線專營權後,新巴馬上兌現競投時的承諾訂購五百架全新低地台空調巴士,除了逐步替換來自中巴的老舊巴士外,同時希望透過建立一支年輕化的車隊,藉此提升服務質素以求與當時的主要競爭對手城巴爭取市場佔有率。五百架新車訂單分成兩批,首批二百七十八架新車於一九九八年五月訂購,全數為英國丹尼士車廠提供的飛鏢及三叉戟組成,其中富歷史意義的首架新巴巴士(1001/HU8370),便是一架於同年七月七日付運抵港的丹尼士三叉戟。至於餘下二百二十二架新車訂單則於同年十一月落實,除了富豪獲得當中四十架新車訂單外,其餘仍舊由丹尼士所奪得。當中第二批新車訂單中,最為矚目的新車莫過於為數四十架配都普矮車身的十點三米三叉戟,以應付行走山頂,赤柱及石澳路線所需。至於來自中巴的空調巴士除了陸續披上新巴標準色彩外,在其後時間更接受全面翻新工程,令到車廂配置達到新巴標準。由於新巴目標是盡快將車隊空調化,餘下的中巴非空調巴士除部份獲得翻鬆新巴車隊色彩外,餘下的只是貼上新巴標誌,而且只是效力新巴車隊一段短時間便退下火線。

新巴透過創新及富創意市務推廣方式,向市民發放企業訊息,最為易見莫過於在來自中巴的巴士上貼上不同的宣傳橫額,除了宣傳新巴全面投入服務等訊息,亦包括於農曆新年時向全港市民拜年,而新巴企業傳訊部亦於一九九八年十二月獲得《亞洲公關新聞》頒發「最佳企業公關部門」大獎。自一九九九年三月二十二日開始,新巴在四條隧道巴士線上開始接受八達通繳付車資,並於二零零一年二月擴展至全線車隊。至於另一車隊空調化目標亦於二零零二年八月十八日,隨著最後兩架非空調版丹尼士禿鷹(DM)退役後完成,整支新巴車隊除了早年被改成開蓬巴士,行走接駁中環山頂纜車站15C線的DM6(JJ4786)外,都是由空調巴士所組成。DM6最終亦於二零零八年一月被一架空調版同型號開蓬巴士(DA66/GY4478)取代,非空調巴士從此絕跡於港島區路面。

除了營運港島區路線外,新巴亦積極開拓網絡版圖,並成功於一九九九年十一月成功奪得將軍澳南巴士服務專營權,當中首兩條將軍澳新巴路線796M及796X隨於翌年二月一日投入服務。二零零二年五月運輸處就五條西九龍新發展區巴士線,邀請包括新巴在內的現有專營巴士公司參與競投,最終新巴於同年十一月獲得相關路線經營權,並隨於二零零三年三月開始投入服務。除了於本地尋找商機外,新巴亦曾透過新巴(中國)把業務擴展到中國國內,先後於廣州市及昆明市,與當地公交營運商合作營運巴士業務,不過最終新巴於兩地的巴士業務隨著退股及股權收購而分別於二零零八年及二零一二年結束。至於本港業務方面,隨著巴士行業前景愈見不明朗,第一集團於早於二零零零年把其手上新巴股份全數售回新世界創建有限公司,自此之後新巴再沒有任何來自英國的影響力,但公司名稱仍然保留有「第一」字眼。

自一九九三年城巴接辦二十六條中巴路線開始以來,港島巴士服務便一直由兩間專營巴士公司提供,而且兩間公司亦積極爭取市場佔有率,尤其在新巴接手中巴路線之後競爭尤其變得激烈。這個競爭局面於二零零三年六月終於迎來一個終結,英國捷達巴士將城巴出售予周大福企業有限公司,周大福集團乃新世界發展的大股東,換句話說兩巴於這次交易之後由競爭對手變成了姊妹公司。新世界發展在前一年的集團架構重組後,易名為新創建集團有限公司,而新創建與周大福集團成立及擁有相同股權的Merryhill Group Limited,亦於二零零四年三月九日成立,從此新巴及城巴同為該公司轄下的公共交通營運機構,到了同年十二月十四日,Merryhill Group Limited更改名稱為新創建交通服務有限公司。兩巴在成為新創建交通旗下成員之後,先透過路線重組使資源得以更有效運用,而自此之後在洽購新車時亦會採用同一車廂配置規格。到了二零一六年十二月,新創建從周大福手上收購其餘股份,自此便全資擁有新創建交通服務有限公司。

如前段所述,新巴早於二零零零年以開蓬雙層巴士行走15C線,開創本港專利巴士服務先河,到了二零零九年十月十八日更推出人力車觀光巴士服務,進一步推廣專營巴士開蓬巴士服務。人力車觀光巴士啟行時共有兩條路線H1及H2,由五部改裝成開蓬巴士的富豪奧林比安掛帥,而經過多次路線改動,今日的人力車巴士不再局限於港島區,更進一步延伸至九龍心臟地帶,用車亦已經演變成亞歷山大丹尼士製作的Enviro500低地台巴士。

隨著行走人力車觀光巴士的富豪奧林比安數於二零一五年十月下旬前退役,標誌著新巴全線車隊都由低地台巴士組成,成為本港第二家全線採用低地台巴士的專營巴士公司。除了進一步令車隊能夠方便有需要人士出行外,新創建在得到政府資助下,對外進行招標購買油電驅動混能及純電動巴士,其中一架亞歷山大丹尼士混合動力雙層巴士E50H被編配到新巴,並於二零一四年十一月投入服務作營運測試。至於電動巴士方面,來自中國的比亞迪及華夏神龍分別各自奪得五架新車訂單,當中兩架比亞迪電動巴士於二零一五年十一月底加入新巴車隊,隨後於十二月尾完成出牌及車長訓練等程序之後,分別安排於78及81路線上作營運測試。至於華廈神龍的新車因受到多個技術問題有待解決,最終於二零一七年六月才被安排跟比亞迪巴士作對照測試。

新創建集團於二零二零年八月二十一日公布,出售新巴及城巴業務予以Templewater Bravo Holdings Limited、漢思能源及Ascendal Group Limited的合營企業Bravo Transport Holdings Limited,當中Ascendal Group Limited持有的附屬公司亦曾經於英國倫敦及新加坡營運巴士業務。上述股權轉讓於同年十月十五日完成,同時Bravo Transport Holdings Limited改稱為Bravo Transport Services Limited,中文名稱為匯達交通服務有限公司。匯達交通接手新巴及城巴時,香港新冠肺炎疫情肆虐,經濟活動大受影響致乘客量大跌,為了改善營運情況以面對持續嚴峻經營情況,在得到行政長官會同行政會議批准後,新巴將於二零二三年七月一日於其專營權完結後合併入全新的城巴(市區及新界巴士網絡專營權),意味著整個港島區巴士服務面貌將重回一九九三年之前,而新巴亦結束二十五年服務本港市民的日子。

New World First Bus (NWFB) was the youngest bus operator in Hong Kong and it was once a joint venture between New World Development Limited in HK (NWD) and First Group with holding 74% and 26% shares respectively. The history of NWFB can be started as follows: Since awarded from the Government in 1933, China Motor Bus (CMB) was the sole franchised bus service operator on the Island side until City Bus joined the market in 1993. The service standard of CMB was considered as poor by the general public and even networks reduction by Transport Department in 1993 and 1995 respectively, little improvements was made and finally the department decided not to renew the CMB franchised after it expiry on 31 Aug., 1998 and to invite tenders to operate a network of 88 routes from CMB and started operation since 1 Sep., 1998.

NWFB was then established on 10 Mar., 1998 for tendering these bus routes and was successfully won the tender from the government on 31 Mar., 1998. Though NWFB without any experience in public transport sector of Hong Kong, howver, it can meet the vision of maintenance of competition of bus service on Hong Kong Island and made them become the most suitable candidate for the networks. To go one step further, NWFB promised to employ all employees and acquired entire fleet from CMB to ensure a smooth transition. With the substantial capital of NWD and extensive experience from First Group as well as support from different parties, the takeover of CMB networks was successful under the tight preparation time.

The aging fleet from CMB was gradually replaced by 500 brand new super low floor and air conditioned buses as guaranteed in the tender not only to improve service standard but also competed for more market share from City Bus. The order was split into two batches with the first 278 buses composed of Dennis Dart and Trident were ordered in May, 1998 and the first bus of NWFB was a Dennis Trident (1001/HU8370) delivered to Hong Kong on 7 Jul., 1998. The balance order of the 500 new buses was made in Nov., 1998 and instead of 40 Volvo Super Olympian was included in the order, Dennis once again successfully gained the order from NWFB and the most noticeable buses in this order was the low-bridge Duple Metsec bodied Dennis Trident 10.3m to cater the operation need of routes serving the Peak, Stanley and Shek O. For the former CMB fleet, only a few "hot-dog" repainted into NWFB livery as they were set to retired shortly while the air-conditioned members not only received the new paint but also their compartments were refurbished to NWFB standard.

NWFB delivered different corporate message with their innovative sense of marketing and different self promotion advertisements and seasons greetings on the fleet was the best illustrations. In Dec., 1998, NWFB was awarded the "Best Corporate PR" in the 1998 Asian PR Awards. In the following years, NWFB introduced Octopus on 4 cross-harbour routes since 22 Mar., and by Feb., 2001, all NWFB routes accepted Octopus payment. Except the open-top Dennis Condor (DM6/JJ4786) for the Peak Tram shuttle route 15C, the fleet of NWFB was air-conditioned when the last two non-air-conditioned Dennis Condor withdrawn from service on 18 Aug., 2002 and DM6 was finally replaced by another air-conditioned open-top Dennis Condor (DA66/GY4478) in Jan., 2008 and indicated the end of the era of non-air-conditioned bus serving the Island.

The service networks of NWFB was further expanded in Nov., 1999 with the awarded of bus service in Southern Tseung Kwan O and first two routes of the tender, route 796M and 796X, was commenced into service on 1 Feb., 2000. NWFB was invited to tender the new bus routes serving the Western Kowloon in May 2000 and successfully won the tender in Nov., 2002 and the first Western Kowloon route was started operation in Mar., 2003. Instead of invested in Hong Kong, NWFB set up NWFB (China) for running bus service with local operators in the mainland China and Guangzhou NWFB and Kuming NWFB were the examples, however, such partnerships was ended in 2008 and 2012 respectively. The shares hold by First Group sold to NWS in 2000 as they considered the future of Hong Kong franchised bus markets was gloomy.

Since the transferred of 26 CMB routes to City Bus in Sep., 1993, bus service of the Island was operated by two operators and there were always a keen competition especially after CMB taken over by NWFB. The competition was came to an end when Stagecoach sold City Bus to Chow Tai Fook Enterprises Limited (CTFE) in Jun., 2003 and as CTEE was the main shareholder of NWS, NWFB and City Bus were then become sister company from competitors. One thing should be mentioned, NWD was renamed to New World Services Holdings Limited (NWS) after the reorganization of New World Group in 2002. Both NWFB and City Bus was under Merryhill Group Limited which was set up on 9 Mar., 2003 with equal shares was holding by NWS and CTFE respectively and Merryhill Group Limited was renamed into NWS Transport on 14 Dec., 2003. To ultilized group resources effectively, different routes and networks rationalization was implemented among NWFB and City Bus and when acquiring new buses, same compartment configurations was applied on both fleet. When all the Merryhill shares hold by CTFE sold to NWS in Dec., 2016, NWFB and City Bus become wholly owned subsidiaries of NWS.

As mentioned above, route 15C was first served with open-top double decker in 2000 and this was further promoted with the introduction of the Rickshaw Sightseeing Bus service on 18 Oct., 2009. The Rickshaw Sightseeing Bus was operated daily by a fleet of 5 air-conditioned open-top Volvo Olympian on two different routes H1 and H2. Today, the Rickshaw Sightseeing Bus service not only limited on the Island but also extended to the central area of Kowloon and the fleet was now composed of 3 open-top Alexander Dennis Enviro500. In addition, the Volvo Olympian open-top for the Rickshaw Sightseeing Bus was the last step-entranced bus model in the fleet and after their fully withdrawal from revenue service in Nov., 2015, NWFB become the second franchised operator which its fleet fully composed of super low floor bus.

The NWFB fleet go green with the aid of the HKSAR Government sponsorship and a sole Alexander Dennis Enviro500 Hybrid was first introduced in Nov., 2014 for revenue evaluation. A year later, a pair of BYD K9R electric bus started their trial on route 78 and 81 since Dec., 2015 while two electric bus supplied from GDEV was set to start their evaluation as a control in Se., 2016, however, the commission date was postponed to 2 Jun., 2017 due to mechanical issues.

On 21 Aug., 2020, NWS made a public announcement about the sold of NWFB and City Bus to Bravo Transport Limited which was a joint venture of Templewater Bravo Holdings Limited, Hans Energy and Ascendal Group Limited. The Ascendal Group was experienced in operating bus service through it subsidiary in UK and Singapore. The transfer of equity completed on 15 Oct., 2020 and Bravo Transport Holdings Limited was renamed as Bravo Transport Services Limited. During the taken over of Bravo Transport, NWFB and City Bus were serious affected by the epidemic of COVID and after the approval of the Chief Executive in Council, NWFB merged with City Bus (Franchise for Urban and New Territories Network) after it franchised expired on 1 Jul., 2023 to against the adverse operating environment caused by the COVID. After NWFB ceased operation on 1 Jul., 2023, indicated the franchised bus service of the Island backed to the date before 1 Sep., 1993.

最後更新 Last Updated : 3 Dec. 2022

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