Government statement on Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill 2017
The Government introduced the Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill 2017 (the Bill) into the Legislative Council (LegCo) on April 26 to increase the maximum passenger seating capacity of light buses from 16 to 19 seats. When studying and deciding on the appropriate maximum seating capacity, the Government's policy considerations are the supply and demand for public light buses (PLBs) and the need to maintain the delicate balance amongst various public transport services. Based on the policy decision above, the Bill reflects the legislative intent to increase the maximum seating capacity of light buses from 16 to 19 seats.
The current proposal had not only been accepted by various public transport trades, but also discussed in detail at the LegCo Panel on Transport and the Bills Committee. The Government had fully explained the relevant considerations. The Government reached consensus with the Bills Committee that the Government would, in the context of a regular survey on PLB services scheduled for 2018, revisit the situation after the number of seats of PLB had been increased and would also look into the issue of the maximum seating capacity of PLBs when the statutory limit on the number of PLBs would be due for the next review (i.e. 2022). On this premise, the Bills Committee agreed to increase the maximum seating capacity of light buses to 19 seats. The Government had already informed the LegCo to resume Second Reading debate of the Bill on June 28. Once the Bill is passed on June 28, the new maximum seating capacity will be effective on July 7 after it is published in the Gazette.
Subsequently, after the Bills Committee had completed the scrutiny of the Bill, LegCo Member Mr Andrew Wan submitted Committee stage amendments (CSAs) to the Bill which sought to increase the maximum seating capacity of light buses to 20 seats. The LegCo President ruled today that the CSAs proposed by Mr Wan were admissible. Since the CSAs proposed by Mr Wan might affect the delicate balance of the various public transport services and contradicted the Government's policy intent, the Government has to carefully consider the impact of the CSAs and canvass the views of various public transport trades on the proposal to increase the maximum seating capacity of light buses to 20 seats. Given so, the Government takes the view that there is no case to resume Second Reading debate at the current stage, and will consider withdrawing the Bill in order to assess the impact in detail and consult various public transport trades.
According to the existing law, the statutory length limit of PLBs is seven metres. There are also certain statutory requirements on seating and gangway arrangement of light buses. There is indeed a PLB model in the market which can technically fit in 20 seats at most. As the next step, we will canvass the views of various public transport trades on whether to increase the maximum seating capacity of light buses to 20 seats.
Ends/Friday, June 23, 2017
Issued at HKT 21:42
Issued at HKT 21:42