Common Stored Value Tickets: ancestor of the Octopus Card

When travelling around Hong Kong by public transport, virtually every mode accepts the ubiquitous Octopus card. All you need to do is touch your card to the reader on boarding, and the fare will be deducted from your balance. However this hasn’t always been the case – other ticketing systems predated it.

Ticket machines at Hung Hom station on the MTR

When the Mass Transit Railway first opened, magnetic stripe tickets wee the peak of technology. Two forms of ticket were sold:

  • Single Journey Ticket: purchased for each trip, with the turnstiles swallowing the ticket on exit, allowing them to be reused.
  • Stored Value Ticket: implemented using a magnetic stripe card, these ticket worked in a similar way to the Octopus card, with each card being preloaded with a fixed dollar value when sold, with credit being deducted for each journey made.

As you might expect, having to buy a new ticket each day was a pain for regular commuters, so the stored value tickets became popular, with the system being expanded to cover the Kowloon Canton Railway in 1984, Kowloon Motor Bus (KMB) services in 1989, and to Citybus services in 1993.

Examples of Hong Kong's Common Stored Value Tickets
Photo via Nv40k on Wikimedia Commons

The major difference between the newer Octopus system and the Common Stored Value Ticket was in the restrictions – each ticket was only valid for nine months from purchase, and it wasn’t possible to reload a ticket once the preloaded value was exhausted.

However there was a big upside for the savvy traveller – as long as the ticket still had a positive balance, it was legal to use it to travel anywhere on the MTR and KCR networks, resulting in otherwise expensive trips across the city only costing a few cents!

The end for the Common Stored Value Ticket came in 1997, when the Octopus card system was introduced. The last tickets were sold in August 1998, with the final payment being accepted on January 2, 1999.


A contemporary promotion for MTR Stored Value Tickets can be found here:

As is this 1984 promotion for new MTR and KCR ticketing system changes.

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Photos from my 2013 trip to China

It has taken me almost two years, but I have finally finished uploading the photographs I took on my 2013 trip to China.

China Railways high speed trains stabled outside Shanghai Hongqiao railway station

I spent a week on the ‘mainland’ visiting the cities of Shanghai, Beijing and Xi’an:

  • Day 1: arrive into Shanghai from Melbourne, riding the Maglev from Pudong Airport, and checking out The Bund.
  • Day 2: Visiting Pudong, riding the Shanghai Metro, inspecting the rubber-tyred Translor tram, and watching mainline trains at Shanghai Railway Station.
  • Day 3: Shanghai to Beijing by high-speed train, and exploring the Beijing Metro
  • Day 4: Template of Heaven.
  • Day 5: Summer Palace.
  • Day 6: visiting the Great Wall of China, travelling there and back by train.
  • Day 7: Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, and the Beijing Railway Museum.
  • Day 8: Beijing to Xi’an by high-speed train.
  • Day 9: Terracotta Warriors, watching trains at Xi’an Railway Station, and exploring the Xi’an Metro.
  • Day 10: flight from Xi’an to Hong Kong.

You can view the complete set of photos on Flickr – a total of 2,090 photos!

Next up – uploading photos from the two weeks I spent in Hong Kong during 2013!

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RTHK documentary featuring maintenance work on the MTR

Hong Kong public broadcaster RTHK has a series titled ‘香港衝線’ (‘HK – Crossing the Finish Line’) and the 13 October 2014 edition features the maintenance crews who come out after dark to keep the MTR running.

Unfortunately everything is in Cantonese, with no subtitles, but here is a quick synopsis.

  • 00:35 stock train footage
  • 01:08 opening the doors for the first train
  • 02:03 lowering the station doors at closing time
  • 02:56 crew board a works train at Shau Kei Wan station and head off into the tunnels
  • 04:19 moving cranes into place to lower new rails
  • 04:31 uncoupling the locomotive from the works train
  • 04:35 at work in the tunnel replacing a worn length of rail
  • 06:30 onto the next job
  • 06:48 preparing new rail in the workshops
  • 07:48 flashbutt welding lengths of rail
  • 08:45 moving welded rail into the yard and loading it onto trains
  • 09:35 headed out for another job, this time at Central
  • 09:50 walking down to the work site, and replacing more rail
  • 11:20 delays to passengers on the MTR
  • 11:47 emergency works to the overhead on the MTR East Rail line
  • 12:00 driving through the train wash in the depot
  • 12:23 taking a train over the inspection pit in the depot, and looking over the interior, roof and undercarriage
  • 15:10 setting up a mobile crane outside Sha Tin Wai station
  • 16:25 looking over platform extension works on the Ma On Shan line
  • 17:05 parked taxi delays the crane lift, so the police are called
  • 19:10 tow truck arrives to take away the taxi
  • 19:30 mobile crane removes a smaller mobile crane from the Sha Tin Wai worksite
  • 21:00 credits
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After hours maintenance on the MTR

When darkness falls and the last train for the night returns to the depot, maintenance work on Hong Kong’s MTR starts. This series of television commercials from the MTR showcases this important work.

Looking over each train from top to bottom is critical:

As is inspecting the tracks they run upon.

As you might expect, these important tasks aren’t visible to the average commuter, so these videos were a nice find.


I’ve written about the MTR fleet of maintenance trains before.

Works train shunting around Kowloon Bay depot

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Hong Kong transport footage from the 1990s

The other week on YouTube I stumbled upon a great collection of Hong Kong transport footage, recorded back in 1993/94 and uploaded by a user going by the name of ‘kamepo‘.

We start by looking out the right hand side window of a plane arriving into the former Kai Tak Airport, followed by the trip on the transfer bus back to the terminal.

Next, a few short clips through the streets of Kowloon on a bus trip between the airport to Nathan Road.

The Star Ferry by night as well as day.

Trundling around the Hong Kong Tramways.

A short trip around the MTR network.

And finally, a departure from Kai Tak and the view over Hong Kong Island.

A great collection of footage from a time that is little documented.

More videos

Riding the Kowloon Canton Railway in 1993 – another YouTube video from ‘kamepo’ which I have written about previously.

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