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LCQ16: Lost trips of franchised buses

     Following is a question by the Hon Starry Lee and a written reply by the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Ms Eva Cheng, in the Legislative Council today (March 28):


     According to the information of the Transport Department, the rates of deviations of the actual bus trips from the scheduled trips (lost trip rates) of franchised bus routes in the three districts of Kowloon City, Sham Shui Po and Yau Tsim Mong were -11.1%, -9.8% and -9.3% respectively last year and were the highest among other routes across the territory.  The Government explained that lost trips of buses were attributed to traffic congestion, traffic incidents, breakdowns of vehicle and staff shortage.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the respective lost trip rates of the various franchised bus routes passing or terminating in the various districts mentioned above in the past three years (set out in table form);

(b) of the respective numbers and nature of complaints concerning the franchised bus routes in (a) in the past three years; among such complaints, the number of those involving lost trips;

(c) what specific solutions the franchised bus companies have for the problem of staff shortage; and

(d) whether any specific action has been taken to improve the situation of lost trips of franchised buses?



(a) There were 209, 208 and 207 franchised bus routes passing through Kowloon City, Sham Shui Po and Yau Tsim Mong or terminating in these three districts in 2009, 2010 and 2011 respectively.  The lost trip rates of the bus routes concerned are at Annexes 1 to 3.

(b) In 2009, 2010 and 2011, the number of complaints received by the Transport Department (TD) via the Transport Complaints Unit of the Transport Advisory Committee involving bus routes passing through Kowloon City, Sham Shui Po and Yau Tsim Mong or terminating in these three districts were 1,094, 1,374 and 1,785 respectively.  These complaints on franchised bus services were on service frequency / passenger capacity, routeings, operating hours, fares, cleanliness of vehicle compartments, passenger facilities, and staff conduct and performance, etc..  The respective number of complaints involving irregularities in service frequency over the past three years were 315, 512 and 760.

(c) Lost trips of franchised bus services can be attributed to a number of factors.  Some are within the control of the bus companies (such as non-attendance and wastage of bus drivers and vehicle breakdown) while some are not (such as road congestion and traffic incidents).  The increase in lost trip rates in 2011 was primarily a result of shortage of bus drivers and more congested roads.

     The Government is very concerned about the lost trip situation of one bus company owing to shortage of bus drivers.  We have urged the relevant bus company to take proactive measures to recruit new bus drivers and retain serving ones.  To reduce non-attendance and wastage of bus drivers, it is understood that the bus company concerned has taken the initiative to recruit additional bus drivers through more channels, expand the capacity of its bus driver training school, review bus drivers' remuneration (including providing special bonus to serving bus drivers and new ones who have successfully passed probation), enhance staff welfare, improve working environment, strengthen communication with bus drivers, etc..  The Government has noted that the situation of lost trip caused by non-attendance and wastage of bus drivers has improved after the implementation of the aforementioned measures.

(d) TD has put in place a well-established statutory and administrative mechanism to closely monitor the service delivery of various franchised bus companies.  Such monitoring is conducted through field surveys and inspections, examination of regular reports submitted by the bus companies (covering number and turnover rate of serving bus drivers,  average daily number of bus trips made, etc.), regular meetings with the bus companies, etc..

     For each non-compliance case including lost trips, TD will require the bus company concerned to investigate the cause and take appropriate rectification actions.  If the lost trips are caused by factors beyond the bus companies' control or anticipation, TD will explore with them measures which can help improve the stability of service frequency.  For example, they include re-routeing or adjusting the timetable to tie in with the actual journey time.  Regarding lost trips which are within the control of the franchised bus companies, TD will require the company concerned to implement improvement measures within a specified period to rectify the problem.  In case the franchised bus company concerned fails to make timely improvement on factors within its control (such as vehicle breakdown and driver shortage) and provide reasonable explanations, TD will issue reminder letters or even warning letters to the bus company and conduct follow-up surveys to ascertain the effectiveness of its improvement measures.  

     If there is still no sign of improvement after the bus company concerned is allowed a reasonable period of time to implement rectification measures, the Administration may recommend the Chief Executive-in-Council (CE-in-C) to impose financial penalty on the bus company according to section 22 of the Public Bus Services Ordinance (the Ordinance).  If the bus company fails without good cause to maintain a proper and efficient public bus service in respect of any specified route, the Administration may recommend CE-in-C to revoke its right to operate the route concerned or its franchise altogether under section 24 of the Ordinance.

     Regarding the persistently high rate of lost trips concerning a particular bus company, the Commissioner for Transport issued two warning letters in December 2011 and mid-March 2012 respectively to solemnly demand improvements by the bus company.  Unless lost trips are notably decreased by end-June 2012, the bus company may not be regarded as having maintained a proper and efficient public bus service with attendant legal consequences.  TD will continue to keep the situation closely in view and actively follow up on the matter.  If necessary, it is prepared to take punitive actions in accordance with the Ordinance as appropriate.

Ends/Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Issued at HKT 13:14


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