Safety concerns spur big rise in transport complaints

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 February, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 23 February, 2007, 12:00am

Complaints about public transport jumped almost 17 per cent last year to 20,248 amid public concern about a series of serious traffic accidents.

Transport Advisory Committee spokesman Wong Sze-chun attributed the increase to more public awareness, spurred by the prominent display of complaint hotlines at transport interchanges, bus terminuses and taxi stands.

But Legislative Council transport panel chairman Andrew Cheng Kar-foo branded this a lame excuse, saying the trend highlighted the public's concern about public transport drivers' behaviour.

'You think Hong Kong people have nothing better to do [than complain]? The figure spoke for itself; the government should face the truth,' he said.

Topping the list were taxi drivers, with 7,051 complaints, a surge of 13.2 per cent over 2005. Improper driving behaviour, failure to display identity plates and overcharging were major contributors to the increase.

Second were minibuses with 3,803 complaints, a rise of almost 33 per cent. The majority of complaints related to the condition of vehicles, improper driving behaviour and overcharging.

A string of serious bus and minibus accidents in recent years sparked an outcry and calls for stricter enforcement against drivers who speed and jump lights.

The Transport Department said driving improvement courses and safety workshops were arranged for public light bus drivers and, up to last year, more than 700 minibus drivers had joined the courses. It also introduced a taxi driver commendation scheme in 2001 to enhance the quality of the drivers. A total of 4,417 taxi drivers have been commended under the scheme up to the end of last year.

But Mr Cheng said the participation rate was low as these were all voluntary schemes.

'The government said they will make these courses mandatory for repeated traffic offenders but no progress has yet been made,' he said.

Railway services and franchised buses also saw a big surge in the number of complaints but committee chairwoman Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah said this had little to do with the safety issues. 'Most of the increase is attributed to complaints over the KCRC's and buses' audio-broadcasting system,' she said.

The committee received 558 complaints from 36 people about the Newsline Express on KCR trains, up from 289 complaints from 73 complainants the previous year.