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Cityline Ticketing System

Following is a question by Hon Charles Mok and a written reply by the Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Tsang Tak-sing, in the Legislative Council today (December 11):


The Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) engages the Cityline (Hong Kong) Limited (Cityline) as the contractor to develop, operate and maintain the Urban Ticketing System (URBTIX) at the company’s own cost.  With 41 outlets and the provision of telephone and Internet booking as well as ticketing enquiry services, URBTIX is a major ticket sales channel for concerts and cultural and sports events in Hong Kong.  Quite a number of members of the public have relayed to me that they intend to purchase tickets through the booking web site (booking site) of URBTIX, but the booking site very often merely displays the message that all Internet ticketing slots are being taken up by customers, and therefore the service is not available.  This situation has caused them great inconvenience.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the duration, service fee and service details of the service contract signed between LCSD and Cityline;

(b) whether it knows the daily average of the following in relation to the main web page of the booking site in the past three years: (i) the page views, (ii) the number of unique visitors and (iii) the number of times error messages were displayed because the server was overloaded;

(c) whether it knows if Cityline has calculated the maximum number of transactions that the Internet booking service can handle concurrently; if Cityline has, of the number; whether Cityline has investigated the reason why some members of the public often fail to purchase tickets through the booking site; if Cityline has, whether it has reviewed the design of the ticketing system and made any improvement;

(d) whether the service contract signed between LCSD and Cityline stipulates any performance pledge in respect of the Internet booking service; if so, of the details, and whether there is any record of Cityline failing to meet such performance pledges; if there are such records, of the details;

(e) whether it knows if Cityline has set a ceiling on the ratio of tickets available for sale on the Internet to the total number of tickets; if Cityline has, of the ceiling ratio, and the number of cultural and recreational events in the past three years for which the tickets available for sale on the Internet were sold out, together with a list of the titles of such events by the length of the duration from the time tickets were open for sale to the time tickets were sold out;

(f) whether it knows the number of customers who, in the past three years, often purchased multiple tickets for the same event or made repeated attempts to purchase tickets for the same event through the booking site, the average number of tickets per event purchased by them, and the total amount of payments made by such customers for purchasing the tickets; and

(g) whether it knows if Cityline has detected unusual cases in which individual customers often made repeated or bulk purchases of tickets through the booking site, and if Cityline has assessed whether such cases involve ticket scalping activities; if the assessment outcome is in the affirmative, of the follow-up actions taken by the authorities?



URBTIX has been providing one-stop ticketing services to hirers or programme organisers and audiences of LCSD performance venues since it commenced operation in 1984.  It is not mandatory for hirers of performance venues (including the Hong Kong Coliseum) to use any particular ticketing channel or agent for the sale of tickets.  If hirers choose URBTIX for the sale of their programme tickets, URBTIX will serve as the ticketing agent and make relevant ticketing arrangements as instructed by programme organisers.

The serving URBTIX ticketing system commenced operation in late 2006.  The system developed then has taken into account the market situation and requirements at that time, thus the services provided by the system, in particular the Internet booking functions, may not meet the present ticketing requirements.  With a view to enhancing the ticketing services to address the requests of programme organisers and members of the public, the LCSD has awarded a new contract to upgrade the existing computerised ticketing system through an open tender exercise this year.  Under the new contract, the contractor will launch a new computerised ticketing system and service in early 2014.  Compared with the current system, the new ticketing system offers a greater number of real-time Internet ticketing sessions (with a tenfold increase in the number of concurrent users that can be accommodated) and more convenient ticketing functions.  New services include the provision of a ticket pre-sale service for up to 12 months in advance, telephone booking via mobile phones, support to Mainland patrons in using their China UnionPay cards for payment of Internet booking, and a personalised online ticketing service for Internet patrons.

Regarding the questions raised by Hon Charles Mok, my reply is as follows:

(a) The current ticketing system is owned and developed by the Cityline at the company’s own cost, and the Cityline is responsible for the operation and maintenance of the system.  It also provides Internet and telephone booking services.  The existing seven-year service contract signed between the LCSD and the Cityline will expire in early March of 2014.  According to the contract terms, the Cityline charges service fee as its operating revenue based on actual sales.  The total value of the contract within the contract period is around $82 million.  Following the procedures of an open tender exercise, the new service contract is awarded to the Cityline.  The contract will commence on March 5, 2014 for a period of seven years.  The service fee will also be charged on the basis of the actual sales.  The estimated value of the new contract is around $123 million.

(b) As more time is required for compilation of data, at the moment the Cityline can only provide the daily average number of the page views of the main web page and the number of unique visitors over the past 12 months as set out in the table below.  The current system does not capture any statistics on the display of server busy messages due to the overloading of the server.

The daily average number
between Dec 2012 and Nov 2013
Page views of the           120 600
main web page

Unique visitors              25 000
(identified according
to the visitor’s
IP address)

(c) and (d) As stipulated in the existing contract, the ticketing system is required to accommodate not less than 200 users of the Internet booking service concurrently.  The Cityline has always been able to meet the requirement.

As tickets are sold on a “first come, first served” basis, most people purchase their tickets between 10am and the subsequent few hours on the first day of sale through various ticketing channels.  On the first day of sale for a popular programme, the network traffic is generally very heavy due to the large number of users.  As a result, some users fail to log in the booking site instantly and have to make repeated attempts patiently to log in.

The new ticketing system to be launched in early 2014 provides an Internet booking service which can accommodate up to 2 000 users concurrently, representing a tenfold increase in capacity over the current system.  The Cityline is also able to expand the capacity of the new system when necessary.  We believe that this will enhance the effectiveness of the Internet booking service.

(e) Programme organisers who use URBTIX usually sell their tickets at various outlets, on the Internet and by telephone booking at the same time.  No specific quota is set for Internet booking.  Tickets are sold on a “first come, first served” basis.

(f) and (g) As the ticketing system does not have the automatic function of monitoring the number of tickets purchased by individual customers and the amount of payments, we cannot provide information such as the number of customers who often purchase multiple tickets for the same event or purchase tickets repeatedly for the same event through the booking site, the average number of tickets per event purchased by them, and the total amount of payments made by such customers for purchasing the tickets.

To uphold the principle of being fair, open and just in the sale of tickets by URBTIX, the LCSD and the Cityline will monitor the ticketing situation from time to time.  Sometimes customers are found accessing URBTIX web page and purchasing tickets through robot activities.  In view of this, the Cityline has enhanced the function of intercepting browsing and the purchase of tickets through improper programmes on the Internet booking system in late 2012.  As for ticket scalping activities, URBTIX has specified in its “Terms and Conditions of Sale of Tickets” and “Notice to Ticket Buyers” that it has not authorised anybody to make alternative arrangements for sale of tickets in venues or through other channels.  If any person detect ticket scapling activities, they should seek police assistance and URBTIX will take appropriate actions accordingly.

Ends/Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Issued at HKT 15:35

Office Of Hon. Charles Mok, Legislative Councillor (IT)