CHINA Motor Bus (CMB) Company's new franchise will subject it to tighter public scrutiny and force it to hand over 14 routes to Citybus from September 1. CMB will have to report to the Government the number of additional journeys operated, the number of drivers allocated to each route, and the working hours of the drivers. Its procurement policies, accounting principles and practices must also be reported. The excised routes mainly serve the southern district and Mid-Levels, and include two cross-harbour lines. About 60 buses and drivers will be hit. The Executive Council yesterday endorsed the three-year franchise, subject to approval by the Sino-British Joint Liaison Group. The Government said it agreed to extend the franchise despite complaints of poor bus services, because CMB had 'passed' in general. Transport Secretary Haider Barma said: 'We believe the reduced network will be more compatible with CMB's management capability and we aim to improve bus services by increasing competition gradually.' He said Citybus had agreed to take on as many redundant CMB employees as possible, while CMB was asked to limit its job cuts by transferring staff to existing vacancies. Citybus said about 100 new air-conditioned buses would stand by to meet the September change-over. 'All new buses will be to the new standard set by Citybus, featuring wider two-and-two seating,' said managing director Lyndon Rees. While passengers were positive about the move, unionist Lau Chin-shek criticised the Government for not putting out the 14 routes to public tender. The lack of open competition would not ensure quality and commitment from operators, he said. Mr Barma said a public tender was not possible because of there was not enough time. He said the Government's offer to CMB was in the interests of the travelling public. CMB will continue to operate 119 routes on Hong Kong Island after the cut, including two cross-harbour routes - 105 and 590 - which CMB is allowed to retain, but subject to future performance.