Observers, media and legislators outnumber commuters for switch

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 September, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 September, 1998, 12:00am

More people turned up yesterday to stare at, monitor or photograph buses than catch them.

The few commuters heading for work from Siu Sai Wan bus terminal at 6am were easily outnumbered by the media, observers - and even legislators.

'Typical,' joked one commuter. 'You wait all morning for a legislator, then three turn up at once.' Officials were there to celebrate the damp first dawn of First Bus services - and to watch out for chaos and complaints.

Officers from the Transport Department and staff from First Bus were standing by to observe day one of the handover, promising a smooth start and hoping it would not turn into another Chek Lap Kok.

If it did, the analysts were prepared: before the first of the early-morning commuter buses had left the terminal, the Democratic Alliance (DAB) for the Betterment of Hong Kong had set up a 'monitoring centre' next to the bus lanes.

The party sent out volunteers, wearing bright orange vests bearing the party's name and logo, to stand by each bus lane as observers.

To make sure that no potential disaster went unnoticed, they handed out questionnaires to passengers seeking opinions on the new service.

Heavyweights from the DAB, including Gary Cheng Kai-nam, arrived later. They said they would release findings of their survey as soon as possible.

Media were also approached by stars from the Democratic Party including Dr Yeung Sum and Andrew Cheng Kar-foo, who announced they would release their own survey findings.

But what surprised people most was the arrival of Commissioner for Transport Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun, Secretary for Transport Nicholas Ng Wing-fui and New World Development's managing director Henry Cheng Ka-shun at about 8am.

'Will they all come again tomorrow? I want my little girl to see the VIPs. She's only watched them on TV,' a woman said.

At the end of the day, the launch was an anti-climax. Despite the commotion, the crowds and the police guard, there were no catastrophes, no disasters and nothing particularly out of the ordinary.

It was just another day on the buses. By today, the celebrities will be gone and there will be no VIPs left for mothers to point out to their daughters.