Government says taking them off the road will cut congestion, lower pollution levels The number of buses on the city's roads will be cut by 2 per cent or 100 under a government plan to ease traffic jams and reduce pollution. Commissioner for Transport Alan Wong Chi-kong yesterday said the government would consult district councils on the issue early next year. But doubts were raised over whether they would succeed, with Mr Wong admitting that efforts to cut the number by 80 in the past three years had failed and a district councillor warning the plan was likely to run into strong opposition. Bus numbers have already been trimmed in the past five years, but they are still a major contributor to congestion on busy roads. Transport Department figures show there are more than 5,900 buses on the road now operated by more than 10,000 bus drivers, compared with 6,359 buses in 2001. A total of 204 bus routes had been restructured in the past three years, while three had been cancelled and five had been rerouted. Mr Wong told a meeting of the Legislative Council transport panel that the restructuring had been an ongoing process. 'It is for the sake of easier management, easing congestion and minimising roadside pollution,' he said. The department has no timetable for the plan and it was unable to predict how many routes might be cut or restructured. Mr Wong said the restructuring would have 'minimal effect' on the bus drivers' jobs because, although some routes were cancelled, new routes were being created. He said the government had been unable to forge a consensus between the bus companies, the department and the district councils on the 80-bus reduction proposed in the past three years. Raymond So Wai-man, associate dean of Chinese University's business administration faculty, said the situation was in deadlock because the three parties had different demands they wanted to satisfy - the government wanted to solve the traffic problems and pollution; the bus companies wanted to eliminate routes that were not cost effective while the district councillors wanted to maintain services to their residents. He said the routes that aligned with railway stations should be cut because moving commuters onto the railway network would certainly ease the congestion on roads. 'But of course the bus companies wouldn't be happy with it because these routes make most money as their major passenger source comes from there,' he said. Yau Tsim Mong District Council traffic and transport committee chairman Law Wing-cheung said most proposals to restructure bus routes failed to pass his council in previous years because cutting them would affect the interests of the people. A Kowloon Motor Bus spokeswoman said the company had been in talks with the Transport Department for years to restructure their bus routes. 'Usually one route involves more than one district council and we need to amend our proposals constantly in order to get their approval,' she said. 'Final decision is with the district councils and this process would usually go back and forth repeatedly.' A New World First Bus spokeswoman also said it hoped to achieve a triple-win solution to all parties when negotiating.