The idea of priority seats was first introduced in northern Europe, under the principle of the “Barrier Free Environment” , which aims to provide an unimpeded, easily accessible and ideal environment to all people. Priority seats were then spread to Asian countries over the past centuries, such as Japan, Taiwan and Korea.
Priority seats in Hong Kong were first introduced in the MTR in 2009 and they were then introduced to the Kowloon Motor Bus (KMB) in 2011 May , CityBus & New World First Bus (NWFB) in 2012 June. The purpose of introducing such seats to public transportations is to reserve seats for the elderly, handicaps, pregnant women, and people with infants or young children.
According to a press release from the MTR Corporation , at the beginning, the MTR had organized a campaign in encouraging people to offer seats to the needy. People who did so were given a free one-way ticket as award. There were also large red stickers with big smiley faces, known as the Smiley® World Characters stuck on top of the priority seats in order to attract people’s attention. Besides, station buddies were invited to promote the offer seats culture together with the Smiley® World Characters at different MTR stations.
After the set up of priority seats in MTR, bus companies started to follow. According to the Encyclopaedia of Bus Transport in Hong Kong, the KMB first introduced priority seats to 87 of their buses . There were four priority seats located at the front seats in the lower deck of each bus. The headrests of such seats are in green with words and symbols like “PRIORITY SEAT” to help passengers identify them. There were also stickers everywhere and advertisements broadcasted in “roadshow” to raise awareness of passengers in offering seats. As the 6-month trial received positive and supportive feedback from the public, the KMB decided to have priority seats in all of its buses in the year 2012, and such seats were changed into dark purple headsets instead of...