Make all your pupils ride your bus, Hong Kong district council tells international school amid traffic congestion
‘Substantial increase’ in gridlock feared before new residential development opens
A prestigious international school in Hong Kong has been urged to require that all pupils take its bus service to campus to ease traffic congestion, with several district councillors asking the government to stipulate the point in its next service agreement with the institution.
During a meeting of Tuen Mun District Council’s traffic and transport committee on Friday, members discussed a request by four district councillors to make riding a Harrow International School bus mandatory for every enrolled pupil.
The Hong Kong branch of the British boarding school began requiring all new pupils to use the school bus service last September. Only parents of new pupils who are Year 6 or younger and living in areas lacking access to the service may apply for a car permit.
About 600 pupils currently use the service and they account for about half of Harrow’s enrolment, according to the school’s website.
The move came after Tuen Mun residents complained about daily traffic congestion at peak hours, largely caused by parents ferrying their children to and from the school since it opened in 2012.
District councillor Beatrice Chu Shun-nga said traffic had not improved appreciably with only new pupils taking the school bus. She cited figures from a study district councillors conducted at a roundabout along Castle Peak Road and Tsing Ying Road, near the school.
Chu said that on non-school days there were about 103 to 106 buses passing the roundabout between 6.30am and 8.30am. But the figure dropped to some 90 buses on school days before the riding requirement was introduced.
Even after the requirement took effect, the number remained in the 90s, resulting in public transport still being affected and residents inconvenienced, she said.
“We believe the limited improvement is caused by the school bus riding requirement only being applied to new pupils.”
“With the residents of the newly completed residential development The Bloomsway moving in by March, we believe there will be a substantial increase in traffic flow.”
It was for this reason the district councillors urged the Education Bureau to require all Harrow pupils to use its bus service when signing its next service agreement with the school in 2020.
They also called on the Transport Department to emulate various international schools in Southern district to extend the mandatory school bus scheme from new pupils to all who are enrolled.
Chu added she could file a complaint with the Ombudsman if no improvements were made.
She said a Transport Department representative at the committee meeting had agreed to follow up on the matter, while an Education Bureau representative said it would examine the mandatory scheme for newly admitted pupils.
A Harrow spokeswoman said the school’s traffic management measures had made an impact and been acknowledged by Chu. It added that the vast majority of its pupils and staff used the bus service or were boarders living in school accommodation.