Drivers' lunch breaks to hold up trams
Tram passengers will have to wait longer for a ride as drivers begin to take lunch breaks.
Hongkong Tramways yesterday said that from November 2 tram drivers would get 15 to 25 minutes for lunch at either their Shau Kei Wan or Whitty Street depots. The breaks will be expanded to 30 minutes early next year.
The move comes in the wake of reports of tram accidents being caused by drivers eating while working.
But general manager Frankie Yick Chi-ming said that the breaks would interrupt tram schedules and keep passengers waiting longer at tram stops.
He said that while there were no official records of accidents being directly caused by drivers eating while working, the company did not allow it. He said the lunch breaks would improve working conditions.
Tramways was working out schedules for drivers to take lunch breaks and be back at work as quickly as possible, Mr Yick said.
The company may have to spend up to $6.5 million a year employing about 40 more drivers to maintain efficiency.
But unions said 30-minute lunch breaks were not enough for drivers working shifts of up to nine hours.
Ho Chi-kin of the Hong Kong Tramways Workers' Union said 45 minutes would be more reasonable and demanded the company improve management to keep services running smoothly.