Bus passengers taken for a ride over Roadshow

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 November, 2015, 12:15am
UPDATED : Sunday, 29 November, 2015, 12:15am

In her letter (“Bus arrival times available through app”, November 23), Susanna Sin, head of corporate communications at KMB, regales readers with the latest developments regarding the provision of the estimated time of arrival (ETA) service on its bus fleet.

She describes a recently introduced smartphone app and mentions a few LCD panels now installed on Nathan Road. She does not mention that it has taken 15 long years to achieve these underwhelming advances.

Passengers had the Roadshow multimedia service foisted on them despite protests that all they wanted was a quiet and relaxing bus ride. Commuters were told that the intrusion would be balanced by the provision of real-time information on bus services and that advertising revenue would help stabilise fares.

In July 2001, the Legislative Council was told that “KMB has formed a joint venture company with RoadVision Holdings to provide and develop TV panels inside buses and interactive passenger information panels at bus stops and bus terminals. The panels are used as a platform for research into GPS-type technology and communication systems. The ultimate objective is to enhance passenger information and fleet management through technology.”

In its June 2002 interim report, Roadshow announced that “Trials of GPS commenced in the first half of the year on selected buses. GPS will be used to provide real-time information, traffic, weather, news”.

In October 2005, when applications for new franchises were being considered, Legco was told that our three bus companies “have agreed to continue the trial on GPS to further ascertain its technical and operational feasibility for bus tracking and provision of passenger information. Pending conclusion of the trials, they have agreed to enhance passenger information through alternative means such as provision of bus stop announcement on all buses and installation of more LED panels at bus termini to show bus information and departure times.”

In 2016, the franchises will come up for renewal again, hence the latest developments.

Legco and the Transport Department have been grossly negligent in failing to ensure that the promised services materialised. The commuter has suffered an invasive experience for 15 years without enjoying the promised benefits.

Moreover, the assertion that Roadshow helps stabilise fares is a myth, as revenue has been falling. Losses were HK$13 million for the six months to June 30, mainly due to a reduction in revenue and, notably, an increase in management fees. KMB is increasing its cut, of course. This gravy train should be derailed.

Candy Tam, Wan Chai