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Cutting Back Buses To Improve Air

Cutting back buses to improve air only encourages more cars

Updated on Sep 29, 2008 – SCMP

The Hong Kong government has for the past few years been keen to reduce the number of buses entering busy streets, because buses with diesel engines contribute to the city’s serious air pollution problem.

As I have observed, however, this policy has proved to be seriously flawed.

Reducing the number of buses in busy areas means reducing the number of public transport options available to people wanting to go into and out of these areas.

Also, it has become apparent that the public transport services available in these areas have become increasingly unable to meet the rising demand brought about by new commercial developments.

Anyone travelling on the MTR in peak hours will notice that the network has become much more congested.

Moreover, when the number of buses is reduced, residents in remote areas with no rail services are almost always the ones to suffer.

Due to the absence of direct bus routes running between these newly-developed remote districts and urban areas, commuters will have to pay for feeder services to the rail stations at their own expense.

This inconvenience has thus far discouraged many residents of Tin Shui Wai, dubbed the “city of sadness”, from finding jobs in the urban areas.

Ironically, owners of new private housing developments that have been built around new railway stations are often investors who do not actually live in those apartments, or car owners who seldom travel by rail.

Another recent case in point is the rerouting of the only all-day bus that ran between Ma Tau Wai and the Star Ferry, which was always full of passengers. It was originally designed to reduce the number of buses in Tsim Sha Tsui.

At a time when rail services have yet to cover most of Hong Kong, the reduction in bus services will only serve to make Hong Kong’s public transport less efficient and encourage more people to switch to private cars.

Charles Lieou, Sha Tin

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