8 November 2010

Minibuses and Their Governors

It can't be doubted by any rational man or woman that Hong Kong's transport system is, for the most part, a superbly connected network of railways, roads and motorways that even makes a trip to the distant countryside something of a convenience. However, some drivers responsible for ferrying passengers from point A to point B show precious little respect for road safety.

This past Saturday evening I took a minibus (public light bus) from Mong Kok to a small district in the New Territories. Each minibus is equipped with a large speedometer mounted to the ceiling of the vehicle which is clearly visible to all passengers. This large speedometer is supposed to make public the true speed of the minibus, and when the vehicle's speed passes 80 km/h this speedometer beeps and flashes, alerting those on board to the actions of the driver.

During my journey north the driver easily surpassed speeds of 90 km/h, but I have been in one minibus that went well over 100 km/h. Clearly these drivers prize their potential earnings over the safety of their passengers. But passengers are also culpable when they remain silent and don't voice their concerns for safety. There's no shortage of minibus accidents during a given week and speed almost always plays an important factor.

For several years now there has been talk of installing governors on minibuses in an attempt to reign in these incessant speeders, but lobbying from minibus groups and government inaction have prevented them from being implemented. While police attempt to do their part through speed traps and giving greater attention to the problem of speeding, placing governors on every minibus in the territory will greatly reduce traffic accidents and contribute to safer roads.

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