The Kowloon Bus Company has asked the police to increase prosecutions against those who attack bus drivers, as only ten out of 76 cases reported resulted in successful convictions since the start of 2017.
KMB Deputy Operations Director Patrick Pang said at a review committee hearing on Friday that, as of July 22, the company received reports of 41 instances of passengers attacking or verbally abusing bus drivers this year – an increase from 35 cases in all of last year.
Pang said there were only ten convictions for ordinary assault out of the 76 reported cases in 2017 and 2018. Another case received a verbal warning from police.
Pang said the company in March asked police to investigate the attacks using the Public Bus Services Regulations, but according to company records, the police have not made any prosecutions using the regulations.
He cited as an example a case in July of a driver who had a dispute with four men who did not pay the full fare. The driver was unable to get the money from them and the bus stalled twice afterwards. The driver suspected that the men had activated the emergency stop switches and called the police, but they did not press charges.
He said the police should have been able to take further action using the regulations.
Pang urged police to treat the cases seriously and increase prosecutions to provide a safe working environment for bus drivers.
The Independent Review Committee on Hong Kong’s Franchised Bus Service held hearings this week to receive testimony from parties including transport officials, representatives from bus companies, unions and employees.
The Committee was set up by the government after a fatal accident in Tai Po in February that left 19 dead and dozens injured. It is tasked with examining the operation of franchised bus services and making safety recommendations.
The tragedy sparked calls from KMB unions for better treatment of bus drivers.