Bus broadcasts get thumbs up in surveys
A number of letters have appeared in these columns concerning television screens on public transport.
We are sympathetic to these concerns. However, we must also take into account the positive responses from some passengers.
According to several surveys conducted by independent consultants, the majority of respondents welcome these broadcasts. A survey in March showed that 82 per cent of respondents considered TV broadcasting a better service and 69 per cent liked it very much or liked it 'somewhat'.
The TV system is also being used as a platform for trial and research into the application of Global Positioning System technology in bus tracking and bus operations. This will lead to more efficient operation of buses, at no expense to the bus companies. Under the agreement between the companies and the service provider, part of any profit will go to bus operations, thereby reducing the pressure on fares.
Against this background, we believe a reasonable balance must be struck between the various interests. Accordingly, we have worked with the bus firms to develop arrangements which will allow the broadcasts to continue and minimise the disturbance to passengers who dislike them.
Too high a volume has been the main complaint. The volume has now been lowered to a level close to the ambient noise level of a bus on the road. A quiet zone exists immediately behind the driver and on the left side of the lower deck. The bus companies also take prompt action if complaints are received concerning the volume on individual buses. As a result of these measures, the number of complaints has dropped significantly.
We also asked the bus operators to research other ways to reduce the impact. For example, in Singapore, sound is provided through radio frequencies. Passengers bring their own radio and headphones if they wish to listen to the programme. We have asked the bus firms to see if the Singapore system would be appropriate for Hong Kong.
We shall continue to closely monitor passenger feedback.
Regarding ferries, television sets have been installed in four new catamarans serving island routes operated by New World First Ferry Services Ltd (NWFF). These inform passengers about various services provided by NWFF, and broadcast information for tourists, about famous places in the outlying islands. The Transport Department and NWFF have not received any complaints.
Regarding concern over noise levels of TV broadcasting on minibuses, we are discussing with minibus operators how to minimise any adverse impact on passengers.
for Commissioner for Transport