PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 December, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 December, 2004, 12:00am

Q Should the cross-harbour bus routes be retained?

I appreciate the advantages of electric trains, currently the most environmentally-friendly mass carrier, as the backbone of our urban transport system. Passenger transport by rail is often useful to solve the problems of road congestion and air pollution, although buses will remain a more flexible, hence more convenient, alternative choice for Ma On Shan commuters. It is always a trade-off between costs and benefits, financially and environmentally, as far as the choice between buses and trains is concerned.

A new railway link has a high threshold population to support such a service. I'm sure the Ma On Shan new town has a big enough population to make such an investment economically sustainable. Such an investment will increase benefits for all stakeholders. Some commuters may make their choices between the train and the bus, based on their own objectives to save time and money.

In the long run, the loser of that competition will be forced out of the market. If the train happens to be the loser, I am afraid that our government will have to financially interfere - subsidising the railway to be more competitive and economical. If the railway is seen to be a substitute for buses, then the number of bus services should be gradually reduced. However, I acknowledge that the demand for cross-harbour passenger transport to workplaces is high for Ma On Shan; bus services should be flexibly adjusted to protect the welfare of passengers.

Dennis Ho Chun-yin, London

Q Should a new home be found for the fireboat?

It is appalling that a decision can be made to plonk the Alexander Grantham fireboat, which is no longer fit for service, into the Quarry Bay park as if it was a historic treasure or an aesthetic piece of work! The park is a narrow strip of promenade and walkways being enjoyed by the community, and one only has to visit it to see how well it serves the needs of the residents in the area.

A big chunk has been taken from what little open area there is, and set aside for the boat to rest in a pool of water. What function does it serve? Someone should justify why this decision has been taken to deprive the community of a valuable piece of the park.

Without that justification it is only clear that it is a bad decision. Not only has it been a waste of taxpayers' money, we have to suffer the inconvenience for more than a year as a large part of the park has been cordoned off, squashing the joggers, morning walkers, young and elderly alike into the remaining narrow path - which is asking for accidents to happen.

F.Y. Lee, Taikoo Shing

On other matters ...

Once again we have a headline stating that a blitz on tailgaters will be instituted. Last week it was a crackdown on jaywalkers. Before that we had a clampdown on red-light jumpers and before that we had a blitz against speeding drivers. Sounds like something from the Keystone Cops.

Also in yesterday's news a teenager was killed after being thrown from a speeding car following an accident. It appears he was not wearing a seatbelt and the driver is suspected of running a red light.

I walk the streets of Mongkok every day and observe drivers using mobile phones, running red lights, blocking pedestrian crossings and yellow boxes and rear-seat taxi passengers not belted up. Why? Basically these offenders know they have a 99 per cent chance of getting away with it as the law is not being enforced.

Might I suggest that instead of blitzes, crackdowns and clampdowns, those responsible enforce the law and we would then see a reduction in offences and a safer environment for all.

Mike Hart, Sheung Shui

If we want to get serious about reducing traffic accidents we should look at the existing penalties. They are pathetic. Many professional drivers have these paltry fines built into their contracts and the company pays for most of the fines, especially when it comes to overloading. To see a decrease in accidents we need to make all offences involving moving vehicles come under the demerit points system.

In addition to the existing points offences, all offences involving moving vehicles should incur at least one penalty point. We also need to increase the level of the fines.

We all know that will be an impossibility as long as humans control vehicles. The Transport Department needs to wake up to reality and not sit in offices coming up with stupid campaigns, poor road design and speed limits.

Can we see a reduction in the number of traffic light-controlled junctions in the New Territories and installation of more mini roundabouts, which keep traffic moving. Then maybe fewer people will try to beat the lights and cause accidents.

Name and address supplied

I note with some dismay that it appears the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has dispensed with the services of three executive directors in the past 18 months. Clearly the executive committee and/or trustees are selecting the wrong people for the job, or something is awry within the organisation's upper echelons.

The recent apparent absence/departure of Pauline Taylor seems all the more surprising in view of the sudden change in the SPCA's financial state from annual losses, $3.5 million in 2002-03, to a surplus in 2003-04 of $3 million. This, when combined with the recent departure of the treasurer, financial director and chief vet, seems to suggest all is not well at the society. Perhaps all will be revealed at the annual meeting tomorrow.

Name and address supplied