Bus, taxi complaints driven to new highs

ERRATIC bus services and bad taxi drivers drove transport complaints to a record high last year.

Complaints soared almost 28 per cent to 12,793 last year, from 10,001 in 1992, according to figures soon to be released.

Legislators reacted by urging the Government to tighten control on bus services and review taxi policy.

''Bus companies should be fined if their services are below standard. The Government should consider axing the franchised routes if their buses fail to keep to scheduled frequencies and the operators make no improvement,'' legislator Lau Chin-shek said.

Colleague Zachary Wong Wai-yin warned the taxi industry that services must improve if fare rises were to be approved.

He will raise the problem of poor taxi services at the Legco transport panel.

Complaints had been referred to the police and the Transport Department, said Transport Complaints Unit executive secretary Leung Yiu-chung.

The figures include complaints about public transport, traffic conditions, road maintenance and traffic enforcement.

Mr Leung said the increase was mainly due to the complaints about taxi services and Citybus last year.

Taxi complaints rose by 20 per cent to 3,242, constituting the largest single group of complaints.

The complaints against Citybus rose to 439 last year from about 70.

''We received 197 complaints about Citybus when it took over 26 bus routes from China Motor Bus [CMB] last September. Previously, fewer than 10 complaints had been reported a month,'' Mr Leung said.

But he said the figures showed a downward trend, falling from 197 in September to 41 in December.

Complaints against Kowloon Motor Bus rose by 13 per cent to 1,157 - with those against erratic services making up about two-thirds.

The last quarter of last year saw complaints soar to 336 - 28 per cent more than in the same period of the previous year.

Kowloon Motor Bus has come under public criticism recently for applying for a fare rise of nearly 20 per cent.

Although CMB handed over 26 bus routes to Citybus last September, the overall complaints against CMB rose about 15 per cent to 832 last year, compared with 724 in 1992.

CMB's public relations officer, Ng King-chung, said the main factor for the increase was industrial action by drivers in the third quarter of last year following the sacking of 170 workers.

''[The increase] was understandable. In August, some of our bus services were affected when many drivers took industrial action. They were in a bad mood, causing complaints from passengers,'' he said.