Minibus riders to buckle up or pay up this year

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 May, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 May, 2004, 12:00am

New minibuses will be required to install seatbelts this year and passengers could be fined if they don't buckle up.

The requirement was first agreed to by the Legislative Council in principle two years ago.

But a statement by the Environment, Transport and Works Bureau to Legco yesterday put the plan on the short-term agenda.

The department hopes to have the law in effect by August 1, although a government spokeswoman said this date was 'just a proposal'.

'The date is not set yet, but we hope to have this made into law some time this year,' she said.

No details of the fines for offending passengers were available.

Under the new law, drivers will not be held liable if their passengers do not buckle up.

They will only be required to remind their passengers that it is against the law to not wear seatbelts.

Transport officials said drivers should be concentrating on their driving rather than making sure all passengers were wearing their seatbelts.

Existing minibuses will not be required to fit seatbelts.

But the impact of the law is expected to be accentuated as bus operators switch to LPG-powered vehicles.

Hong Kong's fleet of more than 4,000 red and green minibuses carry about 1.6 million passengers a day, or about 600 million a year.

Meanwhile, the transport complaints unit of the Transport Advisory Committee, which advises the chief executive on transport matters, said it had received 7.5 per cent fewer complaints and suggestions from the public in the first quarter of this year, compared with the same period last year.

The committee said it received 3,541 submissions, with 35 of these being 'purely suggestions'.

It said 70 per cent of the submissions were related to public transport, while 15 per cent and 10 per cent were related to enforcement matters and traffic conditions, respectively.

The number of complaints and suggestions had already fallen 4.2 per cent in the previous quarter, the committee said.