Minibus drivers fight MTR line

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 May, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 May, 2004, 12:00am

More than 800 minibus drivers have signed an open letter to be published in Chinese-language newspapers today to oppose the proposed MTR South Island line scheduled to be completed in 2010.

The MTRC has proposed to the government that the South Island line would run from Admiralty through Wan Chai, Happy Valley or both, to South Horizons.

In the open letter, the minibus drivers claimed the new line would rob them of their livelihood.

They claimed population growth in Hong Kong was significantly lower than previously projected, so there would not be enough passengers to sustain the new line.

The letter said the population in south Hong Kong was only a third of that of Yuen Long and Tuen Mun, where the West Rail line of the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation has been underused since it was launched last December.

'The MTRC states that the new line can help to ease traffic jams in the area. The congestion, however, only occurs at the entrance and exit of the Aberdeen Tunnel, which is only due to its [low] fares. To build a line that costs $15 billion cannot solve the problem,' the drivers say in the letter.

They added that the plan would lead to huge losses and eventually unemployment among public transport providers, including taxi, minibus and bus companies.

Citybus and New World First Bus have said that they would lose $360 million a year because of the new line.

They insisted the government learn from the West Rail project and review the role of public transport facilities in Hong Kong.

The MTRC will discuss the plan with lawmakers in the Legislative Council tomorrow.