LegCo Paper No. CB(1) 359/96-97
(These minutes have been seen
by the Administration)
Ref : CB1/BC/25/95/2

Bills Committee on Public Bus Services (Amendment) Bill 1996

Minutes of the Meeting on Friday, 4 October 1996 at 10:45 a.m. in the Chamber of the Legislative Council Building

Members present :
    Hon Zachary WONG Wai-yin (Chairman)
    Hon Edward S T HO, OBE, JP
    Hon Ronald ARCULLI, OBE, JP
    Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, OBE, JP
    Hon LEE Cheuk-yan
    Hon CHAN Kam-lam
    Hon CHAN Wing-chan
    Hon CHAN Yuen-han
    Hon LAU Chin-shek
    Hon SIN Chung-kai
Members absent :
    Hon Mrs Selina CHOW, OBE, JP
    Hon CHEUNG Hon-chung
    Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
    Dr Hon LAW Cheung-kwok
    Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee
    Dr Hon John TSE Wing-ling
Public officers attending :
    Mr Gordon SIU, JP
    Secretary for Transport
    Mr Isaac CHOW
    Deputy Secretary for Transport
    Miss Eliza LEE
    Principal Assistant Secretary for Transport
    Mr P C LIM
    Principal Assistant Secretary for Economic Services
    Mr Daniel AU
    Assistant Commissioner for Transport
Clerk in attendance:
    Mrs Vivian KAM
    Chief Assistance Secretary (1)2
Staff in attendance :
    Miss Pauline NG
    Assistant Secretary General 1
    Miss Eva LIU
    Head (Research & Library Services)
    Mr Jackie WU
    Research Officer 1
    Mr Joseph LEE
    Research Officer 5
    Mr Arthur CHEUNG
    Assistant Legal Adviser 5
    Mr Billy TAM
    Senior Assistant Secretary (1)4
    Mr Matthew LOO
    Senior Assistant Secretary (1)4 (Des)

I Confirmation of minutes of previous meeting

(LegCo Paper No. CB(1) 1918/95-96)

The minutes of the meeting held on 7 May 1996 was confirmed.

II Research Report on the Monitoring of Bus Services

(LegCo Paper No. CB(1) 2143/95-96)

2. At the Chairman's invitation, Miss Eva LIU said that the Research and Library Services Division had conducted research on the monitoring of bus services in overseas cities. Thirteen metropolitan cities were covered in the study which essentially was a survey on the practices in the monitoring of bus services in overseas cities, although Bangkok and Taipei had not responded to the Division's request for information. The findings of the research were set out in the research report circulated to members vide LegCo Paper No. CB(1) 2143/95-96.

3. In response to members on the composition and terms of reference of the Singapore Public Transport Council (PTC) as compared with the Transport Advisory Committee (TAC) in Hong Kong, Mr Jackie WU explained that the PTC was a statutory body comprising 13 members appointed by the government. Unlike the TAC in Hong Kong, the PTC had the statutory authority to control bus fare revision.

4. In response to the Chairman's enquiry about the 4% subsidy for private operators in London referred to in Table I of the Summary of Findings in the research report, Miss Eva LIU said that the subsidy provided by London Transport (LT) was for privately-owned enterprises contracted to run bus services in London. She added that the bus service in the city had undergone a privatisation programme a few years ago. The private enterprises had taken up most bus routes operated on a cost recovery basis while routes operated at a loss would require subsidy from the LT.

5. Members considered the need for further research to enhance members' understanding of the monitoring of bus services in overseas countries. The research was to cover the following areas:

  1. the composition, terms of reference, financial support and staffing resources of transport-related advisory bodies in overseas countries irrespective of whether the bus services might be privately-run or government-owned;
  2. with regard to the fare approving authorities in Seoul, details on how the Municipal Government of Seoul was established, its terms of reference, financial support and staffing resources;
  3. for fare revision applications submitted by operators of privately-run services in overseas countries, whether the decisions of the approving authorities were final, or if there were further veto power or appeal channels; and if the fare control mechanisms consisted of procedures similar to that of subsidiary legislation in Hong Kong;
  4. the experience in overseas countries in dealing with conflicting views between approval authorities and advisory bodies regarding fare increase applications, in particular applications submitted by operators of privately-run services; and
  5. statistics on the proposed and approved rates of fare increases of privately-run services.

6. Miss Eva LIU undertook to prepare a research report for member's consideration in about six weeks.R&LS

7. In response to the Chairman, Mr Gordon SIU advised that the information in the research report provided useful reference to the Administration. He also offered to provide assistance to the Research and Library Services Division in following up with the points raised by members. As a related issue, Mr SIU said that in the longer term, the Administration would consider a review of the structure, terms of reference and accountability of the Transport Advisory Committee in Hong Kong.

8. Members noted that a Working Group had been formed under the LegCo Panel on Transport to draw up proposals for an overseas tour for studying mass transit systems and transport facilities. Some members remarked that the itinerary could cover also the operation of bus services in overseas countries as this would be of relevance to the work of the Bills Committee.

III Draft Committee Stage Amendments

(LegCo Paper No. CB(1) 2082/95-96)

9. At the invitation of the Chairman, Hon LAU Chin-shek briefed the meeting on his Committee Stage Amendments (CSAs) on the Bill circulated vide LegCo Paper No. CB(1) 2082/95-96. Mr Arthur CHEUNG supplemented that these were basically technical amendments aimed at ensuring that bus fare increases were subject to vetting by LegCo and that fare revisions effected prior to enactment of the Bill would not be affected.

10. In the absence of Dr Hon LAW Cheung-kwok who was out of town, the Chairman informed members that the CSAs moved by Dr Hon LAW Cheung-kwok were to correlate LegCo vetting of fare revisions with the rate of inflation.

11. On the question of whether vetting by LegCo was meant to apply where the overall rate of the fare increases exceeded inflation or only in so far as fares on individual routes were increased at a rate above inflation were concerned, Mr CHEUNG clarified that according to the wording of the CSAs, the need for vetting by LegCo would depend on whether fare increases on individual routes and sections exceeded inflation. On the calculation of the rate of inflation, Mr CHEUNG reckoned that the aggregate rate of inflation since the last fare revision would be used but advised that further clarification should be sought from Dr LAW.

12. Hon CHAN Kam-lam remarked that Dr LAW's proposals would involve significant workload for LegCo and would affect the financial planning of bus companies. Some Members suggested that clarifications should be sought from Dr LAW on the following:

  1. the rationale in adopting inflation rate as an indicator to determine vetting by LegCo of fare increases;
  2. the effectiveness in monitoring bus services by linking LegCo vetting with higher-than-inflation fare increases;
  3. an estimate on the resources requirement for LegCo if the CSAs were passed; and
  4. the basis and definition of rate of inflation.

13. In response to the Chairman on the Administration's stand, Mr SIU pointed out that the scale of fare increase for buses was dependent on such factors as the salary of bus company employees and maintenance costs for buses while the inflation rate reflected the costs of vegetable and other items associated with the cost of living. A direct linkage of the two factors might therefore not be appropriate. In considering applications for fare revisions, the Administration would consider a variety of factors such as that of pension payments for staff. Mr SIU emphasized that this was a preliminary stand of the Administration and he would need to discuss directly with Dr LAW before coming up with any firm conclusions.

III Any other business

14. Members then discussed the timing for tabling of the Bill in LegCo. Hon LAU Chin-shek indicated that while he appreciated the need for further research on the subject, he might have to seek resumption of second reading of his Bill before bus companies submitted the next round of fare increase applications. Mr Gordon SIU advised that based on past experience bus companies would normally forward their applications to the Administration about four months before the proposed effective date of fare increases. In the light of this information, Hon LEE Cheuk-yan suggested that examination of the Bill by the Bills Committee should conclude by the end of 1996 so that all parties concerned including the bus companies would have a clear indication on the direction to follow.

15. The Chairman concluded that the date of the next meeting would be notified upon availability of the report on the further research. The meeting ended at 11:30 am.

Legislative Council Secretariat
19 November 1996

Last Updated on 10 December 1998