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LCQ4: Structural safety of franchised buses

    Following is a question by the Hon Albert Cheng and a reply by the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Ms Eva Cheng, at the Legislative Council meeting today (January 16):


     In Hong Kong in recent years, franchised buses were involved in a number of traffic accidents and it is often heard that the vehicle bodies of the double-decked buses involved in the accidents were severely damaged after colliding with other vehicles, and passengers on the upper deck who were thrown out of the buses were injured or died. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a)  apart from stipulating the design and construction requirements of franchised buses in the Road Traffic (Construction and Maintenance of Vehicles) Regulations, whether the Government has prescribed other requirements in respect of the vehicle bodies of buses (such as the materials used, structural safety and impact resistance, etc.); if so, of the details;

(b)  whether there is a requirement that for the new buses purchased by the various franchised bus companies in Hong Kong, all the body components assembled in Hong Kong must be produced by the original manufacturers; if there is no such requirement, whether it has assessed if using components not produced by the original manufacturers will weaken the impact resistance of the vehicle bodies of buses; if such an assessment has been made, of the results; and

(c)  following the occurrence of a number of the above accidents, whether the Government has reviewed the structural safety standard prescribed for the vehicle bodies of franchised buses; if so, of the results; if not, the reasons for that?


Madam President,

     The Government attaches great importance to the safety of bus passengers. Every bus has to pass a comprehensive inspection and a tilt test required by the Transport Department (TD) before it is put into service. A licence will be issued by TD only when legal requirements are met and structural safety is confirmed.

     My reply to the three parts of the question is as follows:

(a)  Regulation 5 of the Road Traffic (Construction and Maintenance of Vehicles) Regulations (Cap 374A) stipulates that every vehicle, including a bus, shall be soundly and properly constructed of suitable materials. Manufacturers of the buses currently in use in Hong Kong all come from the European Union (EU) and their designs comply with EU requirements. Every bus is designed by its manufacturer and has undergone tests to ensure structural safety. In terms of structure, the double-decked buses running in Hong Kong are the same as those in other countries such as the United Kingdom, the United States and Singapore.

     Currently, there is generally no requirement on impact resistance for buses around the world. There is also generally no specific requirement on the materials used for buses. Therefore, TD has not prescribed other requirements, such as on impact resistance or materials used in respect of the vehicle bodies of buses. When determining whether a bus fulfills the above legal requirements, TD will consider information provided by the bus manufacturer, including overseas experience in using the bus, compliance with requirements of the place of origin, and the track record.

(b)  At present, new buses are mostly assembled locally. TD has no requirement on the source of body components of buses, but all parts of the bus bodies assembled in Hong Kong are provided by the original bus body manufacturers and the assembly work is conducted by trained personnel of the contractors. To ensure that the assembly standards meet the design requirements set by the manufacturers, the assembly work is undertaken by professionally trained personnel and the process is supervised by engineers from the bus body manufacturers. Moreover, all the buses assembled have to pass the safety examinations (such as those on the brake system, the lighting system and the steering system) and the tilt test required by TD before the issue of licence.

(c)  Every bus operating in Hong Kong is designed by its manufacturer and has passed a comprehensive inspection and a tilt test required by TD. The body structure is safe. Whenever there are serious traffic accidents involving buses, TD will demand detailed reports and improvement plans from the bus companies in question.

     In response to recent accidents resulting in severely damaged bus bodies and casualties arising from passengers being thrown out of the bus, TD has started discussions with bus companies to speed up the fitting of safety belts for exposed front seats on the upper deck or the installation of guardrails across the upper deck windscreen of existing buses.

     To further enhance bus safety, TD has invited academics from mechanical engineering departments of universities and representatives from institutes of mechanical engineering, together with bus manufacturers and franchised bus companies to meet in early January to have a discussion on the structural safety of buses, such as the strength of seats on upper deck and the installation of guardrails across the upper deck windscreen.  TD will continue to keep a close watch on the structural safety and maintenance of buses to ensure the safety of bus passengers.

Ends/Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Issued at HKT 15:32


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