Fisticuffs as bus fails to stop

Local | Charlotte Luo 21 Feb 2019

A KMB bus driver fought with a passenger yesterday when he refused to let the man off after the vehicle passed a bus stop.

The bus was on route 75K from Tai Mei Tuk to Tai Po Market Station, and the passenger forgot to sound the bell before the bus arrived at the station at Fu Shin Estate at about 9.30am.

The man, surnamed Wong, 56, subsequently asked the driver, Ng, 40, to stop the bus, but the driver refused.

The rowdy exchange led to blows, first inside the vehicle, then on the road.

Passengers called the police. When the police arrived, the fight had moved down to the road.

Both men were arrested. They were injured and sent to hospital by ambulance.

The chairman of the Motor Transport Workers General Union, Chan Siu-wah, said the driver followed the rules not to stop the bus after it had left the bus stop.Chan said the driver may have acted in self-defense after being punched by the passenger. He said several previous cases of passengers assaulting drivers were either not prosecuted or attackers were given light sentences.

He hopes the police will take such cases seriously as they affect public safety.

Kowloon Motor Bus Workers General Union said bus drivers should not quarrel with passengers under any circumstances and, instead, broadcast in the bus or inform the bus company.

Passengers should ring the bell in advance to allow drivers to have enough time to prepare for stopping the bus at the station, it said. The union said bus companies and the government needed to enhance education among passengers and even strengthen punishments to prevent such rows from recurring.

Early last month an independent committee set up to consider measures to improve bus safety said insulting a bus driver should be made an offense.

The committee - composed of Court of Appeal vice president Judge Michael Lunn, Lingnan University council chairman Rex Auyeung Pak-kuen and University of Science and Technology civil engineering professor Lo Hong-kam - was set up in March last year to review the operations and monitoring of buses.

That was after the Tai Po tragedy on February 10 when 19 people died and about 60 others were injured. The driver crashed the bus after quarreling with passengers, who complained that he arrived late.

In a report, the committee said there is a growing trend of abuse and assault of bus captains while they are driving.

It said the Transport Department should make it illegal for passengers to make "threatening, abusive or insulting communication" toward a bus driver performing public duties.

The Public Bus Services Ordinance bans passengers from distracting and disturbing drivers, with a maximum penalty of a HK$3,000 fine and six months in jail.

charlotte.luo@singtaonewscorp.com

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