LCQ10: Vehicle licence fees and operating environment of green minibuses

     Following is a question by the Hon Starry Lee and a written reply by the Acting Secretary for Transport and Housing, Mr Yau Shing-mu, at the Legislative Council meeting today (February 22):


     While both public light buses (PLBs) and public buses are modes of public transport that are frequently used by the grassroots, there is a big gap between their vehicle licence fees (VLF) per each passenger seat: the current VLF of PLBs is $8,450, and is around $530 per each passenger seat, which far exceeds that of public buses at $50 per each passenger seat.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the respective total amounts of VLFs of public buses, PLBs (red minibuses and green minibuses) and taxis paid to the Government in each of the past three years;

(b) of the respective criteria for determining the VLFs of such vehicles; when such criteria were formulated; the last time when such criteria were reviewed, and whether at present, the Government has any plan to conduct a review; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(c) in the past three years, of the number of green minibus routes applying for fare increases and the details; the number of green minibus routes that had been cancelled as well as the routes concerned; among such routes, the number of those that had been cancelled due to losses in business operations; and

(d) whether the Government will consider waiving or reducing the VLF of green minibuses, so as to alleviate the operating difficulties encountered by the trade; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?



     The joint reply from the Transport and Housing Bureau and the Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau concerning the question raised is as follows:

(a) Given the limitation of the design of the computer system of the Transport Department (TD), we can now only provide the respective total amounts of vehicle licence fees (VLFs) of public buses, public light buses and taxis received by the government from April 2010 onwards:

Year         Public      Public          Taxis
             buses       light buses
2010       $19,537,247   $9,157,790    $30,307,045
2011       $36,195,195  $14,930,462    $55,537,517

     It will take some time to check the respective breakdown of the total amounts of VLFs from 2009 to just before April 2010.  We will provide the full information later.

(b) The Government will review the vehicle licence fees of different types of vehicle from time to time, taking into account relevant factors such as transport policy and public finance, etc.

(c) Details of the fare increase applications submitted by the green minibus (GMB) operators to TD in the past three years are tabulated below:

Year    No of routes      Results of fare increase
        applied for       applications and approved
        fare increase     fare increase
                          (in respect of full fare)
2009       31            - 19 routes approved
                           (increase ranges from $0.2
                           to $0.5);
                         - 10 routes rejected;
                         - 2 routes withdrawn
2010       159           - 86 routes approved
                           (increase ranges from $0.1
                           to $1.0);
                         - 32 routes rejected;
                         - 41 routes withdrawn
2011       330           - 192 routes approved
                           (increase ranges from $0.1
                           to $1.8);
                         - 22 routes rejected;
                         - 26 routes withdrawn;
                           90 routes being processed

     Between 2009 and 2011, a total of 12 GMB routes were cancelled.  Among them, routes 10A, 10M, 30M and 33 in Kowloon and routes 43D, 97, 142, 406A and 801S in the New Territories were cancelled mainly because of rising costs and decreasing passenger demand.  As for the remaining three GMB routes (routes 10A and 10B on Hong Kong Island and route 607S in the New Territories), they were cancelled after reorganisation or amalgamation with other routes in the same package.

(d) On a whole, in reviewing the vehicle licence fees of different types of vehicles, the Government will take into account relevant factors such as transport policy and public finance, etc.  In fact, vehicle licence fee has been maintained at the current level since 1991.

     TD has been implementing various measures to help the GMB trade improve their operating environment.  These measures include encouraging the trade to explore sources of non-fare box revenue (such as advertisements on vehicle bodies or inside vehicle compartments) to increase their income.  Furthermore, TD will, as the case may require, examine with the GMB operators the proposals on rerouting or rationalisation of GMB routes, introduction of short-haul or supplementary routes, adjustment in vehicle deployment and amendment to service timetables, if necessary, with a view to enhancing the competitiveness and efficiency of GMB services.

Ends/Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Issued at HKT 12:09