Call for coach standby fee

COACH operators want to charge the Government for putting their fleets on standby during the recent China Motor Bus (CMB) strike crisis, even though their servives were eventually not needed.

Transport officials had asked the Non-franchised Bus Operators' Association to prepare for a CMB drivers' strike after the company sent out 173 redundancy notices three weeks ago.

Association chairman Wong Leung-pak said members agreed to mobilise up to 300 air-conditioned coaches on 23 routes.

Mr Wong said the association had helped out during the 1989 CMB strike and, as it went well, members were willing to offer assistance again.

Operators were authorised to collect up to $5 per trip from passengers. However, no payments were offered for work done during the lead-up to the threatened strike.

Staff were deployed at co-ordination centres early yesterday while CMB management and the drivers' union were holding negotiations over severance compensation, Mr Wong said.

As the strike was averted, there was no recognition of the efforts the association had put in behind the scenes, he said.

Mr Wong said this would discourage operators from helping during any future crisis.

The association would suggest that Transport officials pay a ''symbolic'' service fee similar to the $6,000 paid each month by the Kowloon-Canton Railway (KRC).

This fee ensured that at least 40 coaches would be provided to transport KCR passengers during any service disruption.

Meanwhile, sacked CMB drivers have welcomed the new compensation agreement, calculated at $7,000 per worker plus $1,200 for each year of service up to August 31, in addition to the legal severance payment.

Editorial - Page 16