THE basic principle of Citybus and Network 26 is that there is a more efficient way to operate a transport system in Hong Kong. Apart from the behind-the-scenes operation, the process begins with the frontline - the drivers. What passengers will see when they first board a Network 26 bus - or any Citybus for that matter - is a smartly uniformed driver and, in the case of drivers in air-conditioned buses, ties will have to be worn at all times. ''We are particular about this aspect of our image and enforce our uniform policy rigidly,'' Mr Rees said. ''The wearing of jeans and other casual attire is strictly forbidden.'' Drivers are fully outfitted with uniforms, right down to the shoes. He said it not only gave the bus company a good image but made the employees feel good about themselves and happy with their jobs. Mr Rees said drivers were indoctrinated with the Citybus policy for service. He said as well as giving them driver training, they were also versed in the level of behaviour and courtesy expected. ''Passengers are paying for more than comfort and a ride. They are paying for a pleasant smiling driver who can assist if needed,'' Mr Rees said. When China Motor Bus (CMB) staff who worked on Network 26 were made redundant, all were invited to apply for new positions with Citybus. ''We have employed about 50 CMB drivers so far,'' Mr Rees said. He said the only disappointment was the relatively low number of women drivers the company had employed. ''We had about six and have employed another six,'' he said. ''We hope to have a bigger mix in the future as passengers, quite frankly, seem charmed by them. ''The women are generally more caring of the buses and most pleasant to passengers.'' Mr Rees said Citybus sought to have buses driven by ''courteous and considerate drivers who are happy at their work and managed by a highly motivated and professional management with a high sense of moral obligation''.