image

Transport and logistics

Long-suffering bus drivers finally get rest kiosk at terminal in East Kowloon

Employees had been forced to sit in bus during break times to escape summer heat

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 09 September, 2017, 2:55pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 September, 2017, 4:06pm

A long-awaited rest kiosk at a bus terminal in East Kowloon is finally ready for drivers, after they were forced to sit in a bus with its engine idling at break times to escape Hong Kong’s scorching summer heat.

The facility in Lok Wah, Ngau Tau Kok, was given the green light by authorities and put to use on Friday following a drawn-out four-year application process amid red tape and early opposition from the management advisory committee of a nearby public housing estate.

The air-conditioned kiosk is equipped with a water dispenser, fridge, microwave and chairs and tables.

Bus operator KMB first sought permission to build the facility in 2013. A spokeswoman for the government’s Lands Department on Friday said the vetting process for the kiosk required by land lease terms had been completed. But KMB would still need to complete some procedures with the Housing Department, she added.

Red tape forces Hong Kong bus drivers to break law when cooling off

Yuen Fung-yee, a bus driver based at Lok Wah for two years, used the kiosk for the first time on Friday.

“[The facility] is not bad. It is a bit small but I’m really excited we can have a better rest break now,” she said.

The kiosk can accommodate about four people at a time.

Without a proper rest shelter, Yuen used to eat her lunch outside the station supervisor’s kiosk under a footbridge, using a storage box as a dining table.

KMB was forced to arrange a bus with an idling engine all day long to provide a bit of cool comfort to drivers in the summer heat.

Building the rest facility involved adding to the gross floor area officially allocated to Lok Wah public housing estate, a process which required approval from the Housing Department, the Link Reit, which runs the estate’s retail space, and the Lands Department.

The body representing the estate’s residents and managers also opposed some locations that had been eyed for the facility.

Lawmaker Lau Kwok-fan earlier said 169 of the 217 bus terminals managed by KMB in the city were equipped with rest facilities. Among the 48 unequipped terminals, 39 had received approval from the Transport Department for kiosks, and public consultations were being carried out.