In a city that places great value on convenience and efficiency, Hong Kong’s MTR keeps residents and visitors on the move
Serving 5.6 million daily passenger journeys, the MTR network is the backbone of Hong Kong’s public transport system and delivers a world-leading 99.9 per cent on-time performance.
Maintaining a smooth passenger flow at all times through the city’s 93 train stations is a critical component in upholding high operational standards and requires a highly reliable ticketing and fare collection. This function is fulfilled by Octopus contactless smart cards which are used by the vast majority of MTR passengers.
Introduced in 1997, Octopus is recognised as one of the world’s most successful public transport payment systems and can be used not only for trains but also light rail, bus, minibus and ferry rides in Hong Kong.
It is also widely accepted for small-change transactions in convenience stores, fast-food restaurants and car parks all around town with an average of more than 14 million daily transactions recorded in 2016.
At the same time as we strive to uphold high operation performance standards, MTR also continues to focus on consistently delivering a satisfying end-to-end customer journey experience for our passengers.
We look at the needs and expectations of different customers segments at each step of their journey from planning to entering our stations, provision of station facilities, ticketing, customer service, their experience when waiting at the platforms, riding on our trains, leaving the stations and going onward to their final destination.
Based on research, surveys and focus group analysis, we can then introduce appropriate service enhancements that are carefully calibrated to meet the needs and expectations of our different customer groups.
While Octopus best meets the needs of most MTR customers, in recent years we have also introduced mobile ticketing options riding on new technologies to provide additional convenient choices for travellers.
These new services include Airport Express ticketing based on QR code and providing designated Ticket Issuing Machines (TIM) that accept mobile payment at tourist stations.
Mobile Ticketing at the Airport Express
As there is a growing trend for travellers to purchase and arrange their journeys using their mobile devices, AEL QR code tickets were developed and launched in November 2015 to facilitate mobile users to travel on AEL.
Travellers can select a QR code ticket on the online ticketing system and receive a QR code ticket through email and/or directly in the ticket folder of the mobile app after payment.
By scanning the QR code on dedicated QR code gates at AEL stations, travellers can enter or exit in just a few seconds without prior redemption of tickets at the Customer Service Centre.
This further enhances the customer experience in taking AEL as travellers, after passing through the baggage claim and custom, can go straight to board the AEL train at the Airport station, as they need not to stop and queue up at the AEL Customer Service Centre for tickets and there are no ticket gates at the Airport station.
They can purchase tickets via the MTR website or MTR mobile application while they are sitting comfortably on board the AEL train using the in-train free Wifi.
Visitors to Hong Kong could even buy their tickets online before leaving home. When they arrive at the city stations, they can go straight to the exit ticket gate and present their QR code to the ticket gate for exit.
This system not only saves time for travellers but also saves the printing cost of physical tickets which in return improving the AEL P&L. This paperless ticketing is also an eco-friendly approach in the long run.
New mobile payment services at tourist stations
Since mobile payment is developing quickly in recent years, MTR has gained insights into the trend and taken an immediate response.
A trial scheme of new mobile payment services was launched on 16 December 2017 at two tourist stations, namely Lo Wu and Lok Ma Chau stations, which are the cross-border stations connecting Hong Kong and Mainland China, where mobile payment systems have been widely adopted by residents.
TIMs at these two stations have been upgraded to accept mobile payment for sale of single journey tickets. The trial scheme will be extended to other tourist stations in the first half of 2018.
The e-payment terminal is designed to accept different types of payment method by QR code payment which link with credit card or bank account. Currently, several e-wallets are accepted including Alipay, Alipay HK, WeChat Pay and WeChat Pay HK, which allow users to have payment options either in Hong Kong dollars or renminbi.
In general, passengers are very satisfied with the new payment method, and complimented that the transaction process is fast and smooth. In the long run, the Corporation would consider extending this service to other stations to provide more payment options to our passengers.
The new ticketing technologies introduced by MTR reflect the Corporation’s commitment to enhance services for all of our customers. Their train journeys are an important part of their day, so we want to make sure that our service is not only convenient and efficient but is enjoyable as well. Our aim is to not only meet their customers’ expectations; we want to exceed their expectations.
With an average of more than 5.6 million daily passenger journeys, reliable and efficient ticketing is essential to the smooth operation of Hong Kong’s rail network.
Advanced three-in-one ticket machines along MTR’s new lines provide passengers with a one-stop-shop to add value to their Octopus, check recent Octopus transactions or buy single journey tickets.