Surprise over crash rates for minibus drivers

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 November, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 November, 2009, 12:00am

Green-top minibus drivers paid a wage were involved in almost twice as many serious and fatal accidents as their counterparts who worked solely on revenue-sharing, the Transport Department has found.

The findings run counter to speculation that most minibus accidents involve drivers working on a shared revenue basis, which the industry said would give them incentive to speed in order to gain more trips and income.

A Legislative Council paper released yesterday said that green-top minibuses with drivers who were paid staff experienced an accident rate of 20 per 1,000 vehicles during the first half of this year.

However, buses with drivers whose earnings were solely based on revenue-sharing experienced an accident rate of only 11.5 per 1,000 vehicles over the same period.

Buses with drivers whose income came from both a basic wage and shared revenue were involved in 17.2 such accidents per 1,000 vehicles.

The study was confined only to the city's 2,913 green-top minibuses, as red-top minibuses run non- franchised routes and the drivers' remuneration does not fall under the department's scrutiny.

Some 84 per cent of the 353 green-top minibus routes hire drivers as staff.

Only 6 per cent of the routes still run a shared-revenue pay system, while 9 per cent adopt both.

Green- and red-top minibus groups said they were surprised by the findings.

Leung Hung, a veteran activist representing the interests of red-top minibus drivers, said there were many factors to consider when an accident occurred, adding: 'Maybe the paid drivers tend to be young recruits with less experience.'

So Sai-hung of the Green Minibus Maxicab Association said paid drivers' income could be up to 50 per cent less than those under revenue- sharing, and this may affect their morale and attitude to driving.

Altogether, the number of prosecutions against public light bus drivers dropped to 7,395 during the nine months to September, from 8,139 for the same period last year.

A random breath test initiative to tackle drink-driving introduced since February may be part of the reason, while a police campaign launched a year ago urging minibus passengers to report speeding drivers through a hotline advertised next to the speed display unit has reportedly helped to cut the accident rate.

Legislation will be introduced next year to require all minibuses to be fitted with black boxes, which will record a vehicle's speed.

Not so fast

Speed limiters will be mandatory for all minibuses by early 2010

The number of minibuses in Hong Kong that will be covered by the requirement: 4,350