LegCo Panel on Transport
Safety Provisions of School Transport


At the meeting on 29 November 1996, Members sought clarification on the arrangements for implementing the mandatory requirement for escort on buses for primary and kindergarten pupils and the new colour scheme for nanny vans. Some Members also suggested the installation of visual monitors for school vehicle drivers and the provision of seat belts for school children.

2. This paper sets out the latest position on the introduction of the package of improvement measures to enhance school transport safety and the Administration’s response to the issues raised by Members.


3. On 9 May 1996, Members were informed of the results of the public consultation exercise and the improvement measures as listed in Appendix A.

Present Position

4. Some of the improvement measures have already been implemented. These include -

  1. the tightening of licensing conditions for nanny vans;
  2. the display of a "Caution : Children" sign at the rear of school buses for primary and kindergarten pupils;
  3. pursuing with Housing Department designation of stops for school buses in public housing estates; and
  4. issue of a circular to all primary schools and kindergartens to encourage the setting up of School Bus Service Committees.

Provision of Escort

5. Since the start of the school term in September 1996, about 1100 (or 47%) of the 2300 school buses currently used for carrying primary and kindergarten pupils have been providing an escort voluntarily.

6. The Administration has proposed that from the beginning of the school term in February 1997, school buses used for carrying primary and kindergarten pupils will be required to provide an escort on board.

7. In view of the concerns over operational difficulties expressed by the trade, Transport Department has modified the operational arrangements of the scheme. Details are as follows. Transport Department will ask operators to supply the names of their escorts when they apply for renewal of their Passenger Service Licence. The nominated escort will not have to travel with the school bus on every school day as long as another escort is available. Operators will be encouraged to draw up a list of persons (including parents, teachers or relatives) who will be available at short notice to assume the duty of an escort when the nominated escort is not available. These persons will not need to have registered as an escort.

8. Moreover, a school bus operator will be not be prohibited from making a trip if an escort suddenly fails to turn up and another helper cannot be arranged. If he/she is found operating without an escort or if a complaint is received, the operator will be given the opportunity to explain the situation. Action against the operator will be taken only on repeated absence of an escort without good reasons.

9. To provide flexibility and to allow time for operators to fine-tune working arrangements with escorts and helpers, operators will be given a 6-month grace period from February 1997 to the end of the school term. During this period, Transport Department will monitor the situation and liaise with the trade to help them resolve any particular problems that they may encounter.

Colour Scheme

10. At present, nanny vans are required to paint a yellow waist band on the body of the vehicle with the letters "School Private Light Bus" and in a contrasting colour and of uniform size (illustration at Appendix B). Neither the colour of the body of the vehicle nor the colour of the letters is specified.

11. It is the Administration’s view that a brighter and standardised colour scheme comprising a purple waist band against a yellow body (illustration at Appendix C), is more conspicuous and useful in alerting road users in keeping a safe distance when the nanny van is travelling on the road and when young children are boarding and alighting. Yellow is the colour adopted by some overseas countries for school buses.

12. In view of operators’ concern about the cost incurred in repainting their vehicles, Transport Department has agreed that the new colour scheme will only be introducted on new nanny vans with effect from 1 February 1997.

Visual Monitors for School Vehicle Drivers

13. The proposed visual monitor would distract driver from concentrating on driving and paying full attention to road conditions. We do not agree to the installation of such monitors on road safety grounds.

Seat Belts for School Transport

14. The current legislation requires drivers and front seat passengers on school buses and school light buses to wear seat belts. There are, however, practical difficulties in extending the requirement to other passengers.

15. Under the Road Traffic (Traffic Control) Regulation, three children aged three years or above and whose height are below 1.3 m are counted as two passengers. It is therefore common for three children to be carried on two seats. Under such circumstances, it would be difficult for seat belts to be installed.

16. Any change in this current provision for counting children will reduce the number of students carried and affect the income of operators and would be objected by operators. Moreover, there are no proper anchor points on school buses and school light buses for the normal three-point seat belts. If seat belts were required by law, many existing buses would have to be replaced. Furthermore, seat belts may also cause hazards to children who play with them while travelling.

Transport Branch
December 1996

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