Officers from the Transport Department should be empowered to board and investigate non-franchised buses in an effort to crack down on lawbreakers, the Transport Advisory Committee said yesterday.
The recommendation was one of several by the committee's special working group looking into ways to rein in a wave of illegal practices by bus operators. Non-franchised operators include those involved with subcontracted school and housing estate shuttle buses, and the owners of minibuses for hire.
Last year, 4,300 citations were handed out to non-franchised bus drivers, while in the first four months of this year, 2,150 were issued, according to the committee.
Other recommendations included a ban on all cash payments on board the buses. Some operators have been accused of violating their licences and disregarding traffic laws in an effort to grab as much business as possible from other public transport operators.
Transport officers currently have the right to ride on the buses to carry out investigations, but the law does not set out their powers clearly enough, according to committee member Leung On-fook, who is also chairman of the special working group.
The group also suggested increasing joint operations involving the Transport Department and police. Fewer new licences should be issued, and penalties should be made more severe, the report added.
The recommendations will be discussed in Legco tomorrow.