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Inter-departmental efforts to provide sound transport arrangements for cross-boundary students

     The Education Bureau (EDB) said today (August 31) that various government bureaux and departments had fully co-operated to actively implement a series of measures to take care of the transport needs and safety of cross-boundary students (CBS) in the new school year starting tomorrow.

     An EDB spokesman said, "In the 2009/10 school year, there will be more cross-boundary coach service operators to provide cross-boundary school bus services using 'special education quotas'; more trips for school coaches to pick up CBS at Lok Ma Chau Spur Line (Spur Line) Public Transport Interchange; and the same criteria for issuing Closed Area Permits (CAPs) for Lo Wu Road last year will also be adopted in the new school year.¡¨

     In the 2009/10 school year, the¡§special education quotas¡¨issued to cross-boundary coach service operators to cross the border control points at Shenzhen Bay, Huanggang/Lok Ma Chau, Man Kam To and Sha Tau Kok are increased from 20 to 42 trips. Special northbound trips are also provided to take care of the needs of CBS who will leave school at different times because of examinations, extra-curricular and after-school support activities. As the capacity of cross-boundary coach services had doubled, more CBS will be benefited from the services and they will not need to rely on CAPs in traveling to schools in Hong Kong.

     As Lo Wu Road is a rural road and the only emergency vehicular access in Lo Wu border control point, the Government, in issuing Lo Wu Road CAPs, must consider the capacity of Lo Wu Road and give priority to students of tender age in order to ensure their safety.

     Although the number of CBS from kindergartens and Primary One to Four applying for CAPs had exceeded the capacity of Lo Wu Road, various bureaux and departments, after cautious deliberation, have adopted last year¡¦s criteria to issue CAPs to CBS attending kindergarten and Primary One to Four classes in North District in the 2009/10 school year. As to the applications from some Primary Five and Primary Six, CBS who needed to take care of their younger siblings, the Government will, as always, process the applications in accordance with the needs of individual students.

     Regarding the transport arrangements at Spur Line, because of the limited size of the Spur Line and spaces for cross-boundary coaches, and to allow students sufficient time to get on and off the buses safely, the number of coaches using the Spur Line each hour needed to be controlled.

     The Government will continue to make use of the ¡§multi-time slot¡¨ arrangement in the Spur Line, meaning that each hour is divided into ¡§first half hour¡¨ and ¡§second half hour¡¨ sessions to allow school coaches with permits to pick up CBS in either session in multiple trips throughout the day between 6.30am and 6pm.

     The spokesman said,¡§Regarding the criteria for approving school buses entering the Spur Line, the Government has all along accorded top priority to those coaches which can carry the largest number of CBS. The applicants should be the school bus operators rather than the schools.¡¨

     The Government as always encourages school bus providers who are allowed to enter Spur Line to make good use of each trip to transport CBS in need. In addition, students of the same school can choose school buses run by different operators. The EDB has approached schools not issued with permits and explored the possible solutions.

     The spokesman said that with the co-operation of the EDB, Security Bureau, Transport and Housing Bureau, Police, Transport Department, Immigration Department, Customs and Excise Department, Home Affairs Department and Department of Health, various schools, school bus operators and cross-boundary coach operators, transport arrangements for CBS were in place for them to attend schools in Hong Kong in the new school year.

     To help students adapt to school life smoothly in the new school year, various schools, on the first day of the school year, will also adopt flexible class timetables to cater for the needs of different students.

Ends/Monday, August 31, 2009
Issued at HKT 20:22


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