In Hong Kong it's not.
There are six different types of public transportation here:
- MTR - the subway
Nine lines, very long train sets, stations spread out. Built for mass transport, and very good at it.
- City buses
Mostly double-decked, frequent, stops are often far between.
All over the place! Small buses, capacity just 16, scuttles around almost non-stop.
100+ years old trams, frequent, a lot of stops.
- Light rail
Used far out in Tuen Mun. Only read about them so far. Will be ignore for now.
- Star Ferry
Across the harbor.
Of the five we care about right now, there are no less than four different ways of calculating and charging the fares!
- On MTR, you check in and out and get the fare calculated on how far you actually have traveled.
- On buses, both big and small, you check in and pay a fare that depends on how far into the bus' route you get on the bus. Same price, no matter how many stops you travel.
- On the tram, you check out when leaving, paying a flat rate (HK$2.30).
- The Star Ferry charges you before boarding, flat rates. On the upper deck, the fare is slightly higher (HK$2.30).
On at least one of the subway/commuter lines, the one heading towards the Chinese border, they have first class cars. The fare is doubled for travelers in first class, and you have to check in for first class at the platform, not the turnstiles, before entering the car.
Maybe the Stockholm system isn't so bad, after all?