BUS companies have pleaded with legislators to allow them to state their case before a vote is taken on a bill empowering Legco to veto fare increases. Citybus, China Motor Bus (CMB) and the New Lantao Bus company wrote to legislators yesterday, saying they had the right to be consulted. The bill, to be sponsored by legislator Lau Chin-shek, will be gazetted today. The Public Bus Services (Amendment) Ordinance 1996 seeks to change the ordinance to require Executive Council-approved fare increases to be tabled as subsidiary legislation so legislators can amend it. Mr Lau said he would move that the bill have its first, second and third readings on February 14. He said it would establish a mechanism to allow elected legislators to veto fare increases. In the letter, CMB said that the bill had far-reaching consequences. It would change the mechanism under which its revenues would be calculated and potentially alter the basis of its agreement with the Government. Such an amendment would 'undermine business confidence and affect adversely future long-term investment in franchised bus operators and other utilities'. The company also said the objective of the bill would be hard to achieve because, as a listed company, it should not publicly discuss price sensitive information. CMB planning manager Richard Davies said a committee should at least be formed to scrutinise the bill and allow affected parties to put their case. Managing director of Citybus Lyndon Rees said: 'This is a fundamental change to the fare approval mechanism and we have the right to be consulted.' New Lantao director Thomas Wong Chung-pak said the current mechanism was efficient and well-balanced. He said similar mechanisms were available for fare rises for franchised ferry companies and Hongkong Tramways. Bus companies should not be exempted.