Retrofit of seat belts 'costly and may not be effective'

PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 January, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 26 January, 2007, 12:00am

A government study has found retrofitting seat belts is costly, technically impractical and may not even provide the protection passengers expect.

But all franchised bus companies will toughen the upper-deck windscreens of their fleets and install black boxes, which record travel data useful in accident investigations, mid-2008.

A paper submitted to the Legco transport panel yesterday reveals retrofitting belts and other modifications for buses made before 1997 - and half the city's 5,862 buses - would cost HK$150,000 per bus. The cost does not include the redesign fee for each of 30 bus models used here. Each redesign costs about HK$3.4 million. A total of 2,122 newer buses have seat belts in dangerous seats.

'We have not found any country that has legal requirements for the provision of seat belts on buses... The benefits of imposing a seat belt requirement in their buses is uncertain,' the Environment, Transport and Works Bureau paper says.

But transport panel member Wong Kwok-hing said these are just excuses. 'We can't judge the usefulness of seat belts simply from other countries' experiences because Hong Kong is a very busy city in terms of traffic and frequency of transport services; the fact is many passengers were shot out of buses in accidents.'