27 October 2016
Overwork among bus drivers is a cause for serious concern, according to a survey. Photo: HKEJ
Overwork among bus drivers is a cause for serious concern, according to a survey. Photo: HKEJ

Bus drivers overworked; nearly half feel sleepy on duty: survey

A survey has shown that over 97 percent of public bus drivers in Hong Kong are overworked, with 78 percent saying they put in as many as 50 to 60 hours a week on duty.

About five percent of the drivers claimed that they are putting in more than 60 hours of work per week, Apple Daily reported.

The survey, which was conducted by a union advocating standard working hours, was based on interviews with 76 bus drivers from Citybus & New World First Bus Services.

With the exception of two drivers, all of the interviewees said they overwork on a weekly basis.

Three quarters of the bus drivers interviewed said they only have an average of seven or fewer hours of sleep every day.

Forty-seven percent of the drivers said they felt sleepy while on duty.

The union said it was shocked to find out that the Transport Department’s guidelines on the maximum daily working hours and driving hours for bus drivers stand at 14 and 11, respectively.

That would mean that bus drivers can spend 55 to 66 hours a week behind the wheel for a five-day or six-day week.

As bus drivers’ salary levels are not high, they may be putting in overtime regularly in order to make ends meet every month, the union said.

Lam Hong-lim, a Citybus Employees Union official, who is a driver himself, said he has had experience of working continuously for 13 hours a day.

Prolonged hours of sitting in bus seats has led to pain in his waist area.

Lam recommended cutting down the working hours limit for drivers from 14 to 12 each day, and that the number of driving hours be slashed from 11 to nine per day.

That should be done while making sure that the drivers’ incomes do not go down, he said.

The union went on to point out that one in every six bus drivers was involved in a traffic accident in 2014.

Transport Department figures suggest that there were at least 195 traffic accidents involving buses every month in 2014.

Overwork and stress among the drivers might be contributing to the high accident rate, according to the union.  

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