Plan to axe buses could affect 16,000
AN estimated 16,000 bus passengers could be left without access to public transport if Kowloon Motor Bus (KMB) goes ahead with plans to boost efficiency by cutting money-losing routes.
About 60,000 people ride the 16 routes each day, but the company insists they are under-used.
According to KMB, about 32,000 of those passengers could use alternative routes to make their journeys, while 12,000 could use other forms of transport such as public light buses.
But 16,000 regular passengers would be faced with no alternative form of public transport in their area.
KMB said the nature of the loss-making routes had changed because of population migration and re-zoning of land in Kwun Tong, Kowloon City, Mongkok, Shamshuipo, Wong Tai Sin and Yau Ma Tei.
The company believed the rationalisation would relieve about 80 buses for similar but profitable routes and cut demand for new buses.
It will submit proposals to Transport Branch officials after it has completed a consultancy study.
Company officials said the first phase of the study would look at wastage on the 16 routes. The 57 other KMB routes in urban Kowloon would be studied later.
The Transport Branch has rejected KMB's previous requests for rationalisation due to strong district-level opposition.
KMB's own forecasts predict there would be diminishing demand for the services in the areas concerned.
The White Paper on Transport Study, completed in 1989, has projected a 10 per cent drop in use of KMB's urban service routes and a 26 per cent rise in new town services by the end of 1996.
KMB's own statistics have recorded 8.2 per cent and 17 per cent drops in population and bus use in Kowloon between 1989 and 1992, during which the company was asked to expand services by 4.4 per cent.
Kwun Tong District Board member Mr Ma Chi-keung said there were heated debates over KMB's proposal to scrap Routes 14 and 19 A in light of diminishing communities at Yau Tong and at Kung Lok Road in Ngau Tau Kok.
Members who insisted on keeping the bus service for the smaller communities had the upper hand over members disagreeing with keeping the money-losing routes, Mr Ma said.
Despite proposals to replace the bus service with franchised minibuses and extend similar routes, Mr Ma said members had to represent the opinions of the affected residents.
As a result, KMB would only be allowed to reduce service frequency on those under-used urban routes. But company officials said this would increase passengers' waiting time and further reduce patronage.