Crackdown on minibus and shuttle bus firms
35 operators had licences revoked for up to six months and two were banned
Non-franchised bus operators are increasingly losing their licences and being issued tickets as a result of a crackdown on unauthorised services, the Transport Department said yesterday.
The police issued about 7,500 tickets to such operators last year, compared with 4,000 in 2003. Non-franchised buses include minibuses for hire and shuttle buses subcontracted to schools and housing estates.
The department has also been getting tougher on bus operators who breach their licensing conditions for picking up passengers.
Department officials said those targeted included a school bus operator which had been picking up other passengers, and an operator which failed to renew its licence and had been charging passengers, even though its original licence prohibited this.
Both operators had their licences revoked after the commissioner of transport ruled on their cases.
The department investigated 60 cases of suspected licence breaches last year, a dramatic jump from the six in 2003.
Officials said one reason for the steep rise was that the department was investigating cases faster as it gained more experience.
The commissioner last year imposed penalties on 35 operators who owned a total of more than 60 buses.
Most had their passenger-service licences revoked for one to six months, while two operators had their licences permanently revoked.
'These inquiries have a good deterrent effect because once the licences are revoked, the operators cannot drive their vehicles on the road,' said assistant transport commissioner Carolina Yip Lai-ching. 'This greatly affects their income.'
The department monitored areas where the law-breaking bus operators are known to work, including Connaught Road in Central and outside the Hong Kong Coliseum in Hunghom.
The Environment, Transport and Works Bureau has proposed tighter regulations in an attempt to combat unauthorised operators and to reduce oversupply.
There are 7,212 non-franchised bus operators.
A bureau paper on the issue is to be discussed at a special meeting of Legco's transport panel. Representatives from the bus and taxi trade and residential groups will be invited to give their opinions.