PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 December, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 15 December, 2008, 12:00am

Are bus passengers getting a fair deal?

While I fully support the intention to rationalise bus routes in order to curb air pollution, it appears to me to be sheer nonsense to assume that having 'dozens of bus lines to choose from, all going more or less along the same route' ('Eastern bus routes face axe', December 8) amounts to wastage of resources.

Rather, the usage of each bus route is the key to the problem.

Take Siu Sai Wan, in Eastern District. Residents there enjoy the privilege of at least six bus routes heading westwards for Quarry Bay, North Point, Causeway Bay, Wan Chai, Admiralty and Central.

These may appear to be more or less 'for the same direction', but according to my observations, the buses running these routes are packed most of the time.

The aim of operating six different bus routes serving the same district is to split commuters heading for different destinations, so there would be fewer buses having to enter the busy districts of Causeway Bay and Central.

Imagine what would happen if these bus routes were replaced by one single bus line running between Siu Sai Wan and Central via North Point, Causeway Bay and Wan Chai. This would amount to gross inefficiency - there would have to be very frequent departures and most likely the buses would be half-empty by the time they reached Wan Chai.

Moreover, having to serve passengers along its entire journey, the bus route would not be able to use the Island Eastern Corridor, so that a trip to Central could take as much as three times the present journey time. It is clear that instead of merely reducing the number of bus trips, we sometimes need to increase the number of routes to divert commuters bound for busy districts.

The government might want to consider splitting the bus lines running between the New Territories and Kowloon, instead of the practice of packing passengers for Sham Shui Po, Mong Kok and Tsim Sha Tsui on the same bus, which almost always leaves lots of empty buses along Nathan Road.

Charles Lieou, Sha Tin

What do you think of the handling of the new taxi fares?

The airport taxi strike caused chaos at the airport taxi rank ('Hundreds delayed as taxi strike brings chaos', December 4).

The situation got worse as the strike moved to the North Lantau Highway, blocking traffic from the airport. I am disappointed that the Airport Authority did not take more responsibility in the aftermath of the strike.

Perhaps some people assumed that the Transport Department has control over the taxi rank at the airport, but in fact it is under the jurisdiction of the authority.

People blamed the department for handing out leaflets comparing red and green taxi fares, but the authority must share the responsibility.

The authority should have vetted the leaflets before they were handed out at airport premises. It was also reported that an airport security guard 'had advised a passenger heading for Tuen Mun to choose an urban taxi' instead of a green taxi.

While I appreciate that the road management contract is subcontracted to a security company, that does not mean the authority had nothing to do with what happened. We should be thankful that the police dealt with the situation efficiently. The authority must inform us what it plans if there is a similar protest in the future.

Calvin Leung, Ho Man Tin

The action taken by taxi drivers ('Hundreds delayed as taxi strike brings chaos', December 4) was illegal and upset members of the public. However, we should not just blame the drivers. The government must bear some responsibility for what happened.

The drivers blocked a major artery of the city's transport system. They were there to express their anger [with the fare system] and make sure the government understood their concerns, but any protests should have been legal.

However, I do accept the government was at fault [by giving out leaflets comparing green and red taxi fares].

I think the government was not prepared for what happened and this made the situation worse than it had to be. This whole affair was badly handled by the administration.

Lynn Wan Pik-mui, Tsuen Wan

Should the full smoking ban be delayed?

As someone who is a victim of second-hand smoking, I do not think there should be any delay in the smoking ban. You still see people lighting up in bars and nightclubs. They know smoking will have a devastating effect on their health, but they still light up.

Apart from the health concerns for smokers and people exposed to second-hand smoke, we should also be thinking about the tourist industry. Smoke-free bars will leave tourists with a good impression of Hong Kong.

Katrina Yuen, Tsuen Wan