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 were 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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3 Responses to Common Stored Value Tickets: ancestor of the Octopus Card

  1. xahldera says:

    Oh yes. I remember the Common Stored Value Tickets from years ago when I was younger. Never used them myself, as my relatives said they it was pointless for me to buy one just for the odd trip here and there so we stuck with single journey tickets.

  2. I visited Hong Kong in early 1998, and I’ve hazy recollections of my cousins using Common Stored Value Tickets when taking us sightseeing. my father and I had to settle for exact change on the bus and Star Ferry, and the single journey ticket machines for the MTR.

  3. Pingback: The evolution of MTR network maps over time - Checkerboard Hill

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