LCQ8: Rehabus service for people with impaired mobility

     Following is a question by the Hon Chan Han-pan and a written reply by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, in the Legislative Council today (March 19):


     The Rehabus operated by the Hong Kong Society for Rehabilitation (HKSR) provides point-to-point transport service for people with impaired mobility.  Recently, some members of the public have complained to me that their bookings for Rehabus service to transport their elderly family members with chronic illnesses to and from their residences and homes for the aged had been rejected repeatedly, which caused much inconvenience to them. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) whether it knows the respective numbers of telephone bookings for Rehabus service which were received and rejected by HKSR in each month of the past five years;

(2) whether it knows if those people who are unsuccessful in booking Rehabus service will be given priority when they book the service the next time; if they have priority, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(3) whether it knows the number of complaints about booking for Rehabus service received by HKSR in each month of the past five years; whether HKSR has followed up those complaints; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(4) whether it has monitored how HKSR will improve the situation of people with impaired mobility having difficulties in booking Rehabus service; whether the Government plans to provide additional funding for HKSR to procure more buses with a view to improving Rehabus service; if it does, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?


     My reply to the Hon Chan Han-pan's question is as follows:

(1) The Labour and Welfare Bureau provides subvention to the Hong Kong Society for Rehabilitation (HKSR) for operating the Rehabus service to provide point-to-point special transport services for those persons with disabilities who have difficulties in using general public transport in order to facilitate them to go to work and school, receive rehabilitation training, participate in other social activities, and attend medical appointments etc.

     The monthly average number of Dial-a-Ride (DAR) applications (i.e. telephone bookings) of Rehabus service received and rejected by HKSR in the past five years is tabulated below:

Year             2009    2010    2011    2012    2013
----             ----    ----    ----    ----    ----
average no.
of DAR         10 197  10 271  10 569   9 910   9 077

average no.
of DAR            925   1 146   1 403   1 259   1 136

(2) Under the prevailing mechanism of the Rehabus service, DAR service is provided on a "first-come-first-served basis" and users are required to make prior booking. HKSR will keep records of the unsuccessful DAR bookings. Should users of successful bookings subsequently cancel their bookings for personal reasons (such cases amount to 17% to 20% of the total number of DAR bookings on average), the staff of HKSR will notify the users of unsuccessful DAR bookings as soon as possible and arrange transport service for them with a view to better utilising the Rehabus resources and providing services to more persons with disabilities.

(3) The monthly average number of complaints received on the Rehabus service in the past five years, including those arising from unsuccessful DAR bookings, is tabulated below:

Year             2009    2010    2011    2012    2013
----             ----    ----    ----    ----    ----
average no.      3.08    1.42    1.92       3    1.83
of complaints

     After receiving complaints or comments regarding unsuccessful DAR bookings of the Rehabus service, HKSR will approach the complainants to ascertain their service needs and explore other viable options, including sharing the service with other users or offering alternative slots for the service.

     Furthermore, HKSR holds Rehabus Users Liaison Group meetings regularly to collect views from service users and maintain close contact with various organisations of persons with disabilities, parents' groups of children with disabilities or individual users to collect their views on Rehabus service in order to enhance service standards and efficiency.

(4) The Transport Department (TD) which is responsible for overseeing the operation of Rehabus service has been supervising the operation and service standards of Rehabus through examination of the monthly operation and statistical reports submitted by HKSR and discussion with the management of HKSR and persons with disabilities in the regular Rehabus Management Committee meetings.

     The Administration is fully aware of the keen demand from persons with disabilities for Rehabus service. Hence, we will review the service needs every year and apply for additional funding for procuring new rehabuses where necessary.

     Since 2007-08, the Administration has replaced 64 rehabuses with higher vehicle age and procured 40 additional new rehabuses, thereby increasing the fleet to 135, representing an increase of 42%.

     To further enhance the Rehabus service, the Administration will allocate funding of $13.2 million to HKSR in 2014-15 for procuring six new rehabuses and replacing seven rehabuses of higher vehicle age. Three out of the six new rehabuses will be used for providing Scheduled Route (SR) service while the remaining three will be deployed for DAR service. Those three new rehabuses for providing SR service will also be deployed for DAR service during non-peak hours. The new rehabuses are expected to be in full operation in early 2015. If the demand for DAR service remains at the present level, the additional rehabuses will be able to reduce the number of unsuccessful bookings by about 35%. Furthermore, the Administration will allocate an additional recurrent provision of $4.2 million to HKSR for meeting the recurrent cost of the six new rehabuses and employing additional drivers and management staff with a view to further enhancing the service and management of Rehabus.

     TD will continue to review from time to time the fleet size, routes and mode of service of Rehabus with a view to achieving sustainable improvement. Furthermore, TD will continue to maintain close collaboration with the public transport operators to improve the accessibility of transport facilities to facilitate more convenient use of the public transport services by persons with disabilities.

Ends/Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Issued at HKT 15:57