Review of bus drivers' work hours

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 December, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 December, 2006, 12:00am

The Transport Department will review bus drivers' working hours after legislators said passengers were put in danger by drivers who had to work up to 14 hours a day.

Most of the 8,000 Kowloon Motor Bus drivers work an average of 9.4 to 10.4 hours a day, with 30 minutes' rest every six hours. But 16 per cent have to work shifts of 14 hours, with a three-hour break.

Secretary for Environment, Transport and Works Sarah Liao Sau-tung said bus companies reviewed working hours in 2004 and found drivers did not want their hours cut because they feared it would affect their pay.

Lawmaker Albert Cheng King-hon asked if the government was more concerned about the safety or drivers' incomes. 'Accidents involving bus drivers have been on the rise over the past few years. How can you prove that they are unrelated to their lack of rest time?'

But Dr Liao said police statistics proved otherwise. Of the 416 bus accidents caused by drivers last year, exhaustion was a factor in only one. Over the first 11 months of this year there were 410 accidents, with two caused by driver fatigue.

'For drivers who work the maximum hours, we will review if there is a need to lower the cap, especially during busy seasons, but between meeting passengers' demands and maintaining the number of bus drivers at a reasonable level, we have to strike a balance.'

The secretary of Citybus' employees union, Tang Sin-hing, said its members would not accept a cut in working hours. 'They have family burdens. A few hours' work makes the difference of a few thousand dollars every month.'