Command centre to ease bus handover
Transport authorities will set up a command centre to launch contingency action should bus services break down during next Tuesday's transfer of operations.
More than a dozen Transport Department staff will man a control centre monitoring the switch from midnight on Monday.
New World First Bus will begin taking over 88 routes from CMB from 12.15am and department staff will be deployed around 100 terminuses and major bus stops to watch for problems.
First Bus and Citybus will have more than 210 buses on standby should additional services be required.
The timing of the franchise takeover has caused concern because it coincides with the return of schools following the summer holiday.
Transport Secretary Nicholas Ng Wing-fui said yesterday that any disruptions or increase in demand would be relayed to the control centre, which would then dispatch orders to the bus companies or other transport operators to help out.
'All the necessary preparations are in place with contingency arrangements. Not to say we anticipate problems, but like any major operation we have contingency measures in case of bad weather or serious traffic congestion,' Mr Ng said.
'We will have this full-scale control centre which will fully monitor all bus movements on Hong Kong Island.' First Bus managing director Adolf Hsu Hsung said services would begin with the 550 vehicles needed to cover the 88 franchise routes.
An additional 150 vehicles would be available if needed, he said. 'If, for example, there are large crowds waiting for buses at North Point then extra buses will be available at a moment's notice,' Mr Hsu said.
Citybus managing director Lyndon Rees said bus frequencies would be increased on Tuesday and 65 buses would be on standby for contingency action.
He predicted little disruption as school hours were different to commuter peak periods. 'The kids travel to school about 6.45am to 7.45am, before the commuter peak of 8am to 9.30am,' Mr Rees said.
First Bus' inaugural service will leave Siu Sai Wan terminus for North Point at 12.15am. The company will host a launch ceremony.