SIXTEEN new green minibus routes are to be introduced across the territory to satisfy demand and give passengers more choice, the assistant commissioner for transport said.
But William Liew Kwok-shan conceded some overlapping of services was inevitable along the territory's main corridors when he announced the new routes yesterday.
''We have had some complaints about overlap of services with the red minibuses and the new green minibus routes will try to avoid duplication as much as possible,'' he said.
The new services, which should be running by next April, are in Central, Pokfulam, Shau Kei Wan and North Point on Hong Kong Island; Wong Tai Sin, Yau Ma Tei, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kwun Tong and Kowloon City in Kowloon; and Tai Po, Yuen Long and Sai Kung in theNew Territories.
The move is part of the Government's policy to gradually convert red minibuses, whose operators are free to decide routes and fares, to the green minibuses, regulated by the Transport Department.
But Mr Liew said the idea was not to phase out the red public light buses completely.
''The red minibuses are flexible and responsive to situations and they have their part to play in Hong Kong's transport system, but if there are calls for a route to run on a regular basis then it will be changed to a green minibus service,'' he said.
The Transport Department has already converted 1,591 red minibuses into green minibuses on 231 routes, representing 37 per cent of the public light bus fleet. The idea of the green minibus routes is to provide services in areas where demand is not being met by other buses.
The Transport Department is inviting applications for operating the new routes, with November 29 the submission deadline.