Bus Neighbourhood vs. MTR Neighbourhood

Mapping the main mode of transport in Hong Kong

Kenneth Wong
3 min readFeb 2, 2020
The full-size version of the map is in https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1ATZ3nmyuVMF5ChUd6AMNy9aAmawrQUzw


Is your neighbourhood dominated by bus travellers or subway travellers? This map shows the major type of transport used by the workers in each street block. One main point is to investigate is how far the subway could spread from its backbone.

Updates on Feb 2021: I wrote a follow-up article to investigate deeper into the commuters’ characteristics in the selected new towns with some new maps and charts. The article is also posted on my Medium account.

MTR (the subway in Hong Kong) is the most common type of public transport for people. The whole system comprises a total of 93 stations and carries an average of about 4.97 million passengers every day. Meanwhile, franchised buses have a total of 2.80 million passengers per day. (https://www.gov.hk/en/about/abouthk/factsheets/docs/transport.pdf)

There exist some “MTR neighbourhood districts” where the residents heavily rely on MTR and not a fan of riding buses. They are, of course, located in areas with MTR stations inside the area. Convenience and Efficiency are what MTR means for them. For residents living far away from the stations, buses will be their choice instead.

The point here is WHERE are they.

The map above shows which neighbourhood does each street block belongs to. Before diving into the map, a few points to note first.

The Terms

Reading a map without understanding how the map is made often leads to misconceptions. Therefore, defining the key terms of the data is essential. Here are the definitions of the terms included in the map:

  • Workers: people with a fixed place of work in Hong Kong
  • Mode of Transport to Place of Work: the type(s) of transport a worker usually used to travel to his/her place of work
  • Main mode of transport: the type of transport used for travelling the longest distance (for a person who used more than one type of transport to go to work)

Say, if you take a minibus from the flat to the nearest MTR station and then take the subway to cross the harbour, your main mode of transport will be recorded as “MTR”. This is different from the census method from some other countries like Japan, which allows you to select multiple transport modes.

Finally, “On foot only” was recorded if the person usually walked to work and did not use any other mode of transport.

Some (not-so) Interesting Observations

You could observe several patterns in the map, and you could indeed find it out by yourself. Here are a few observations you could immediately spot on:

Workers living in Central and Mid-levels usually walk to their offices.

Street blocks in Tuen Mun are nearly all blue except those immediately next to Tuen Mun MTR Station.

Majority of street blocks in Tai Po are dominated by bus commuters instead of MTR commuters.

You could use these observations as a starting to further investigate the commuting behaviour in each district.


Putting the census data into maps could help you find some new insights that cannot be observed only with rows and columns. Be sure to map them out — spatial data adds an extra layer to explore the demographics.

Please feel free to download the original size version of the map HERE.



Kenneth Wong

Urban Data Science Enthusiast | Urban Planning | GIS | Maps | Data Visualisation | mappyurbanist.com