KMB set up rest facilities for drivers without permission, Hong Kong bus safety panel told
Bus firm installed kiosks and portable toilets without government approval, independent review committee hears
KMB built and modified rest facilities for its drivers without approval from relevant government departments, a Hong Kong bus safety committee was told on Wednesday.
Union leaders had earlier complained to the committee that some bus terminuses lacked a place for drivers who had put in long hours to rest or they were not given enough time to use the bathroom between trips.
The Independent Review Committee on Hong Kong’s Franchised Bus Service, formed after a KMB accident in February that claimed 19 lives and injured more than 60 passengers, had focused on rest facilities in recent days.
On Wednesday, two KMB assistant managers who oversee services in Tuen Mun, Yuen Long and Tin Shui Wai appeared at the hearing.
Kelvin Yeung Chun-wai, who manages 31 bus terminuses, revealed KMB installed a small kiosk in Tuen Mun without government approval when asked about rest facilities for drivers.
The kiosk and a portable toilet were placed in So Kwun Wat village to serve three to four bus drivers each day, he said.
The company had submitted an application to install the kiosk about two weeks before the service from the village started operating in late June. It was still waiting for approval.
Yeung also said KMB had replaced two small kiosks in Po Tin Estate with one large one so drivers had space to rest. KMB filed an application with the government to make the change in 2014 but Yeung said it had not been approved.
“We saw that some bus drivers were eating outside the [small] kiosks because of a lack of space,” he said.
Yeung’s KMB colleague Debby Wong Yee-ling said the bus firm’s application to install a portable toilet for drivers near Allway Gardens in Tsuen Wan was rejected three times in public consultations although the terminus had been open for about 20 years.
Instead, drivers had to use a public toilet in the vicinity or ask to use the bathroom in a commercial building, she said.
The application finally went through last year with help from district councillors, she said.
Meanwhile, a retired KMB senior manager from its safety and quality department, Raymond Cheng, told the committee he was upset the company had “discarded” his 2013 study on sharp bends along bus routes.
Cheng, who retired in 2014, was involved in a study initiated by then managing director Edmond Ho Tat-man, who left the firm in 2015.
Cheng said he and his colleagues identified more than 1,000 locations but consolidated the number to 29 spots deemed as high-risk. The location of February’s accident was not in the 29.
His team then did road tests and submitted video evidence to his superiors, Cheng said.
Although the company planned to produce booklets and reminder cards for drivers based on the findings, Cheng said they had not come to fruition before he retired.