More taking their seats on city's green minibuses
While bus companies are claiming fewer passengers, more are using some minibuses.
The first six months of the year have brought good business for green minibuses. These vehicles, which are regulated by the government, made more than 273,000 passenger journeys - almost 10,000 more than in the same period last year.
Each minibus can only take 16 passengers, enabling them to complete trips in a shorter time than buses.
Ling Chi-keung, chairman of the Public Light Bus General Association, said the government usually bid for two to three routes for minibus companies at auction. One of them was highly profitable, and others less likely to be. This was to strike a balance between the interests of operators and residents in remote areas, Ling said.
In Sha Tin, many green minibuses run through the Shing Mun tunnel and travel on to Tsuen Wan. Passengers say the ride takes only 15 to 20 minutes, compared with an hour needed on the MTR.
However, the unregulated red minibuses have seen a decline in passengers.
In 2006, these minibuses undertook some 158,000 passenger journeys, but last year the number had fallen to 137,000. But unlike at KMB, there has been a consistent drop in routes accompanying the fall in passengers.
Ling said red minibuses were increasingly turning green, a move the government had been promoting for decades.
The number of minibuses on Hong Kong roads at the end of last year
- They comprised 3,018 green minibuses and 1,330 red vehicles