In search of Lorry Bus (Part 2)

[This page was updated on 22-Sep-2013 with new information added.]

Welcome to join my virtual tour to search for Lorry Bus, a.k.a. Village Vehicle, in Hong Kong, part 2.


Today (20-Aug-2011), I went out to find the second remaining lorry bus route. From the information on the internet, this second route runs from Fanling Luen Wo Hui to Man Uk Pin along Sha Tau Kok Road. Three lorry buses were reported serving on this route, namely, AN393, EB2152 & FE8795.

The map marked the locations where lorry bus normally stops.


Here is an image taken from google.

Lorry bus stops at the junction of Luen Shing Street and Wo Fung Street. In this google image, you can even see a lorry bus parked outside a fast food store right at the junction.


Another google image here, you can see from here the junction of Wo Fung Street and Luen Shing Street. The place where the red car parked is the stop of the lorry bus.



On the other corner of the same junction, there is a housewares shop. Sometimes lorry bus stops in front of the shop instead, the place occupied by the silver car in this google image.

Anyway. the lorry bus always stops close to this junction. Passengers will know where and when to find the lorry bus. But for outsiders, sorry, there is not even a sign on the road.

So the principle is simply, if you need to take the lorry bus, you will know the place and the time. If you do not know the place or time, that means you do not need to know.


And I am one of the person who did not know the place and time. What I heard from the internet is the lorry bus starts from Luen Wo Hui and only operates in the morning.

I left my home in Pokfulam at around 0820 hours. When I arrived Luen Wo Hui, it was already 0930 hours.

I walked around Luen Wo Hui and did not see any sight of lorry bus. Just before I tried to ask some people living around, I spotted one leaving!

I took out my camera in no time and only managed to take this photo. Sorry for the poor quality.


The lorry bus passed slowly besides me and the only thing I could do is to shot as many photos as I can.


Bye! Bye! Lorry bus! Are you going to come back again today? Or should I come earlier next week?


From my observations in Sheung Shui last week, when one lorry bus left the stop, another lorry bus will arrive immediately to prevent the stopping place being taken up by other vehicle.

Different from minibuses, lorry bus does not have an authorized stop. Their stop will be taken up by other vehicles when unoccupied.


But when I went back to the stop, no lorry bus was there! Damn! Did I just miss the last lorry bus departure of the day?


Outside the fast food store, I found that there is always a long queue. I think it is quite famous. In fact, it is!

http://www.openrice.com/restaurant/sr2.htm?shopid=12098


I walked up the flyover on Luen On Street and saw the lorry bus moving slowly towards Sha Tau Kok Road.


Bye! Hope that I can see you again today.

I walked back to the stop and waited for about half an hour. But still no trace of lorry bus was seen! I asked the storekeeper of the house ware shop and he said there should be lorry bus serving until 12. So I decided to wait for a bit longer.

 
After another 5 minutes of waiting, a lorry bus finally arrived!


As the place outside the house ware shop is occupied, the lorry bus stopped outside the fast food store instead.


FE8795. This is the same lorry bus I saw earlier. Seems that it has just finished a return trip to Man Uk Pin.

I wonder how many lorry buses are serving on this route.



With the permission of the driver, I was invited to board his lorry bus and took photos inside.

This lorry bus has a 2 step entrance. As other lorry buses, wheelchair access is impossible.


Interior of the lorry bus. Neat, isn't it? This lorry bus looks much better than those serving the Ma Tso Lung to Sheung Shui Shek Wu Hui route.


The back door of the lorry bus, fitted with a large window.


The interior of the lorry bus, looking from the back.


Door operation is controlled by the driver.


Sliding windows with locking clip on both ends.


Wooden benches on both sides, each can sit 10 passengers.

 

Pay the driver through this tunnel! There is a torn notice right above the window, saying $2.5 per person. Unlike the Ma Tso Lung route, no timetable is available.


The license of this lorry bus FE8795. This is an Isuzu NPR, first registered in 30-Jun-2003. The lorry bus is about 8 years old now.


The Excess Passengers Permit and the Closed Road Permit of FE8795.

The Excess Passengers Permit said this lorry bus can carry an additional 22 passengers, making the total capacity 24 passengers + 1 driver.

But why it needs a Closed Road Permit? Man Uk Pin is not in the closed area!


After taking photos of the compartment, I saw some villagers arrived. I left the bus compartment and "interviewed" one of the old villagers.

As FE8795 is the only lorry bus I saw today, the first question I asked was how many lorry buses are serving on this route.

To my surprise, he said there is only one lorry bus left!

Yes, FE8795 is the only lorry bus serving this route. The old man said, "Before there were 3 in total. But one was just sold and the other was sent to scrapyard."


The back of FE8795.

I asked the driver and he confirmed what the old villager said.

"Because I am poor! That's why I need to drive this. Other lorry bus drivers are retired already!", said the driver.

"And how much is the fare?"
"$2.5!"
"$2.5 to Man Uk Pin? That's very cheap!"
(You know, you can't do much with $2.5 in Hong Kong nowadays!)
"Yes, it's cheap! Or else, who will take it?"


Just some background information here.

Man Uk Pin is a small village close to Sha Tau Kok. It is about 500m off the main road, Sha Tau Kok Road. Unlike Sha Tau Kok, Man Uk Pin is not in the closed area. So villagers there do not have a closed area permit. And Luen Wo Hui is the closest town from Man Uk Pin so people can do all the shopping here.

Along Sha Tau Kok road, there are minibus 55K and KMB 78K services. Instead of taking lorry bus, villagers from Man Uk Pin can simply walk 10 minutes to the main road to take 55K or 78K.


So why people still take this lorry bus? Why they don't just take minibus and walk back home from the main road?

"Because it's cheap!", said the driver.

At that moment, a man came and told the driver, "It's good to see you here! I can save some money. Or else I can only take minibus."

The fare for KMB 78K is $5.2 from Luen Wo Hui to Man Uk Pin. And the fare for minibus 55K is $5.5.
$2.5 is really a bargain.


I started asking the operating time.

"I lived in Sha Tau Kok.", said the driver. "And this car parked in Sha Tau Kok."

This explains why it got a Closed Road Permit.

"I wake up at 5 everyday and start business at around 0520."
"From Man Uk Pin?"
"My car starts from Sha Tau Kok. Yes, via Man Uk Pin to Luen Wo Hui."
"Everyday? Monday to Sunday?"
"Yes, Monday to Sunday!"
"No holiday?"
"No holiday!" After thinking for a while, the driver added,"I will tell the villagers in advance if I am going to take a leave. We are all friends! Haha! They will know not to wait for me on those days and take minibus."
"So, no cheap ride on your day off!"
"No, no cheap ride. Haha!"


The driver is very talkative. Just like every old man, once they started to talk, they don't know when to stop.

"Years before, I used to wake up at 4 everyday and start business! People need to carry their vegetable to the market to sell. But now no one grow vegetable."
"No one?"
"No, cheap vegetable from China flooded into the food market of Hong Kong. No local farmer can earn a living now."

One of the purpose of Lorry Bus is to transport vegetables and goods. Without these, a lorry bus is nothing but a non-air-conditioned bus completely lack of comfortably. With 95% of the route overlapping with other means of transport, I understand why this route became obsolete.


The driver said this is the last departure of the day.

"I normally leave at 40 minutes pass each hour from here. People know the time and place to find me."
"So you can make a round trip to Man Uk Pin in less than an hour?"
"About that, sometimes it takes longer if more passengers boarding the car."

"I only work in the morning. 1040 is my last departure of the day.", added the driver. "The route is obsolete. People can take other means of transportation at other time."

"So what are you going to do in the afternoon?" I asked the driver.
"I will drive the car back to my living place, Sha Tau Kok, and rest. That's all for today. Some passengers on board now are going to Sha Tau Kok with me."
"And you charge them $2.5 to Sha Tau Kok?", I asked.
"No, $4!"
"So $2.5 is only up to Man Uk Pin?"
"Yes, before Man Uk Pin, $2.5. After that, $4. This is the last departure of the day and only this departure ends at Sha Tau Kok."

I got some information never heard form the internet!

[Update on 22-Sep-2013]

If you roll back to have a closer look at the Excess Passengers Permit, you can see that it also included a time on it: 0500-1100. That means this lorry bus can only operate between these hours. No wonder why the last departure is at 1040 from Luen Wo Hui.

[Update ends here]


In the whole conversation, the driver never used the term "bus" but "car" when he talked about his Lorry Bus.


This funny "add-on" links the cab with the compartment so the passengers can pay the driver through this tunnel.



The stop of FE8795 is an unused Red Minibus stop. Technically speaking, it is illegal to pick up passengers here because Lorry Bus is not considered as minibus under Hong Kong transport regulations.


This little lamp lights up the whole compartment.



The lorry bus left at around 1045 hours. Luen On Street is a nearby main road perpendicular to Sha Tau Kok Road.

Modern air-conditioned buses and minibuses can be seen on Luen On Street.


After the traffic light is Wo Tai Street. Two minibuses just came out from there. Can you imagine, what came next after these minibuses?


A taxi, a light goods van...


a car and another taxi turning left...


And here came a Lorry Bus!


FE8795 is heading to Sha Tau Kok.


Hong Kong, a place where the old meets the modern!


Goodbye! "Village Vehicle"! Long life, though you do not match with this modern city.

[Update on 22-Sep-2013]

With the uplift of closed area regulations at Ma Tso Lung and surrounding areas in June,2013, more people became interested in Ma Tso Lung. Apply Daily published a feature article about Ma Tso Lung and its lorry buses. Weeks later, Oriental Daily also interviewed the driver of FE8795. Some more details of lorry bus operation were revealed in the interview.

The article was available on the website of Oriental Daily through the following links:

http://orientaldaily.on.cc/cnt/news/20130622/00176_140.html
http://orientaldaily.on.cc/cnt/news/20130622/00176_141.html

According to the article, the operator of FE8795 is Mr. Wong. He was 75 and has been driving Lorry Bus since he was 25. In the interview, Mr. Wong said there were once 17 lorry buses serving the Man Uk Pin route. But now, only his lorry bus remains.

If you want to know more about Mr. Wong's story, please read the article. Sorry, the article is in Chinese language.

[Update ends here]


After came back home, I checked the status of the other two Lorry Buses used to serve on the Man Uk Pin route. I searched EB2152. The number is still registered.


Then I searched AN393. It's unregistered already.

It seems that I know which one was sold and which one went to scrapyard. But who will buy a second hand Lorry Bus? What for? Is it still operates as a Lorry Bus or something else?

[Update on 22-Sep-2013]

According to the Oriental Daily article, Exceed Passenger Permit was not transferrable. So no matter EB2152 went to scrapyard or not, it cannot serve as a lorry bus anymore.

[Update ends here]

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