PUBLIC TRANSPORT

Hong Kong commuters can expect greater road congestion from bus driver protest, unions warn

Collective action planned for Monday sparked by increasing reports of police ticketing drivers for not stopping at their exact designated areas

PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 February, 2017, 1:57am
UPDATED : Monday, 20 February, 2017, 9:09am

Hong Kong commuters may want to leave home earlier Monday morning than usual as greater road congestion was expected due to a protest by bus drivers over police prosecutions of parking irregularities.

In the collective action, drivers are not to load or unload passengers until their vehicles pull up to their exact designated stop areas.

The decision to protest comes amid recent prosecutions against drivers whom police found violated the law by allowing passengers to alight and embark before the buses were properly pulled up.

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The unions of the city’s three bus companies – Kowloon Motor Bus, Citybus and New World First Bus – under the Confederation of Trade Unions said their drivers did not intentionally commit the infractions.

Bus stops being occupied by illegal parked taxis, minibuses, cars and other vehicles presented serious problems
Kwok Wai-kwong, Kowloon Motor Bus staff union

They said drivers chose not to line up in a bus queue and wait for their exact designated area to avoid triggering long queues and worsening congestion.

Drivers also cited pressure from impatient passengers whom they claimed urged them to stop at locations near but not at the actual designated areas.

In many cases, drivers had no choice but to stop outside their areas as they were already occupied by illegally parked vehicles, the unions claimed.

Their plan of action on Monday was sparked by a video of a KMB driver being ticketed by a traffic officer at a bus stop outside Jardine House in Central on Sunday morning.

That same morning, at least two other drivers were warned by police for not parking at the correct areas, the unions added.

Kwok Wai-kwong, vice chairman of the Kowloon Motor Bus staff union – one of six unions within the company – said he hoped the public could understand the difficulties and unfair treatment they faced.

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“Bus stops being occupied by illegal parked taxis, minibuses, cars and other vehicles presented serious problems, especially in areas like Nathan Road,” he said. “We have told the Transport Department about this. They took no action and instead turned against us.”

Kwok appealed to the public to understand the motives behind their action on Monday.

He could not estimate how many drivers and unions from all the bus firms would join. He said the three unions under the CTU would decide their next steps after Monday.