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LCQ14: Working hours and remuneration of bus captains
     Following is a question by the Hon Poon Siu-ping and a written reply by the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Mr Frank Chan Fan, in the Legislative Council today (October 25):


     The Guidelines on Bus Captain Working Hours, Rest Times and Meal Breaks (the Guidelines) issued by the Transport Department (TD) stipulate that the longest duty hours (including all rest times) of a bus captain in a working day should not exceed 14 hours, of which driving time (i.e. longest duty hours minus all rest times each lasting 30 minutes or more) should not account for more than 11 hours.  It is learnt that it has been seven years since TD last revised the Guidelines.  On the other hand, TD has indicated that it engages independent contractors to conduct surveys on the working hours, rest times and meal breaks of bus captains annually.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the respective numbers of contractual and average actual duty hours each day of the bus captains employed by each of the franchised bus companies according to the findings of the latest surveys, as well as a breakdown of the number of bus captains by the number of overtime hours they work each day (set out in the table below); and
Franchised bus company Overtime work per day (hours)
less than two two to four more than
The Kowloon Motor Bus Company (1933) Limited      
Long Win Bus Company Limited      
Citybus Limited      
New World First Bus Services Limited      
New Lantao Bus Company (1973) Limited      

(2) as some representatives of bus staff unions have pointed out that basic salaries of bus captains being on the low side has resulted in captains often requesting to work overtime in order to earn additional income, and captains driving under the state of persistent lack of rest affects road safety, whether the authorities will take measures to ensure that the basic salaries of bus captains keep up with the overall median monthly wage of the land transport industry, such as including provisions in the franchise agreements to be signed with bus companies in future to require such companies to allocate a certain proportion of their profits of a year for increasing the basic salaries of captains for the next year?



     A consolidated reply to the question raised by the Hon Poon Siu-ping is as follows.

     At present, the specific employment terms and arrangements (including working hours) for full-time bus captains of franchised bus companies are subject to agreement between the companies and their staff.  There is no uniform arrangement across different companies.  According to the franchised bus companies, for full-time bus captains, the Kowloon Motor Bus Company (1933) Limited and Long Win Bus Company Limited have specified in the contracts that any working hours exceeding 8 hours in a day will be counted as additional work.  The contractual working hours for full-time bus captains are generally 8 hours a day for Citybus Limited and New World First Bus Services Limited; and 9 or 12 hours for New Lantao Bus Company (1973) Limited.  Given the large number of bus captains and the fact that they joined the service at different times, the terms of contracts of individual bus captains may vary according to their specific circumstances.  Nevertheless, franchised bus companies shall ensure that the duty rosters of bus captains are in compliance with the requirements as stipulated in the Guidelines on Bus Captain Working Hours, Rest Times and Meal Breaks (the Guidelines) (see Annex 1) formulated by the Transport Department (TD).  According to the Guidelines, the maximum duty (including all rest time) of a bus captain in a working day should not exceed 14 hours, whereas driving duty should not exceed 11 hours.

     The usage rate of franchised bus services in Hong Kong is high, which accounts for one-third of the total for all public transport services.  While franchised bus services operate round-the-clock, the passenger demand during peak periods (morning and evening from Monday to Friday) and non-peak periods differs significantly.  In view of the foregoing, franchised bus companies have all along been adopting a flexible approach to handle the working hours of bus captains, so that staff deployment can match the changes in passenger demand at different times throughout the day, and that reliable and efficient bus services can be provided for passengers.  For example, some bus captains may be required to work on special shifts (encompassing both morning and evening peak periods with duty hours approaching the limit as specified in the Guidelines) on certain days.  These bus captains will be provided with longer and continuous rest time during non-peak periods in compliance with the requirement in respect of driving hours in the Guidelines.  They will also receive allowances.  Detailed figures on working hours of bus captains provided by franchised bus compares are set out at Annex 2 for information.

     Having regard to the public concerns over the arrangements in respect of the rest time and working hours of bus captains, the Government is conducting a thorough review of the content of the Guidelines.  TD will continue to engage the staff unions and franchised bus companies for in-depth discussions.  It will vigorously review how the Guidelines can be specifically revised.  We hope to achieve fruitful outcome at the soonest and brief the public on the details as soon as practicable.

     Apart from the arrangement in respect of the rest times and working hours of bus captains, the Government also cares for the overall well-being of bus captains.  The Government has all along been appealing to the franchised bus companies to, as responsible enterprises, show care for the needs of their staff and respond to their requests in respect of remuneration packages where practicable so as to foster a friendly working environment and harmonious labour relations.  Same as other trades, the remuneration packages of bus captains are subject to a host of factors including the private sector market and the overall economic conditions, while an operator may flexibly determine the reasonable remuneration arrangement for bus captains according to its operating conditions.  Any mandatory changes to these market arrangements must be carefully considered.  In fact, the remuneration package for bus captains would be subject to agreement through discussion between the bus companies and their staff.  In any case, the six existing franchises for public bus services will expire one after another between 2023 and 2027.  The Government will consider the arrangement for individual bus networks upon expiry of the respective franchises at appropriate juncture.  Should we propose to grant any new franchises for the bus networks concerned, the Government will, as per established practice, consult the public on the requirements of the new franchises, and will be prepared to explore any practicable suggestions that can improve the well-being of staff and enhance the safety of franchised bus operation.
Ends/Wednesday, October 25, 2017
Issued at HKT 16:00
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