Date
15 December 2018
Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung said the Transport Department will meet with members of the Public Omnibus Operators to discuss how to improve their operations and ensure passenger safety. Photo: TVB News/ISD
Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung said the Transport Department will meet with members of the Public Omnibus Operators to discuss how to improve their operations and ensure passenger safety. Photo: TVB News/ISD

Coach service operator may be barred after deadly crash

Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said the government is studying whether to stop a bus operator from continuing to take airport workers to work after one of its buses not licensed for employee services was involved in a fatal accident last week.

Cheung also said on Sunday the Transport Department will meet with members of the Public Omnibus Operators to discuss how to improve their operations and ensure passenger safety, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

Five people were killed and 32 injured after a tourist coach operated by Kwoon Chung Bus, which was carrying employees of Cathay Pacific and four other companies to the Hong Kong International Airport, rammed into the back of a stationary taxi near an exit of Nam Wan Tunnel shortly before 5 a.m. on Friday.

As of Sunday, five of the victims remained in hospital, while the 62-year-old coach driver was still in critical condition.

Cheung told reporters that the Social Welfare Department have reached out to all the victims of the accident, and will give them all the assistance they need.

The Transport Department said the coach did not apply for the A04 passenger service license to offer non-franchised buses employees’ service as required by regulations but only those for hotel, student and contract hire services.

Matthew Wong Leung-pak, chairman of the bus operator, said if the bus involved in the accident did not have the proper license, he would make sure that an application for the service endorsement will be filed.

Some operators from the bus industry criticized the Transport Department for tightening the issuance of passenger service licenses for buses providing employees’ service, forcing them to use buses with other types of passenger service licenses.

While the issue remains to be solved, the pressing question now is whether the victims will get compensation from insurers.

Cheung said they can file civil claims for compensation and file claims covered by third-party risk insurance policies, while both Cathay and Kwoon Chung have reportedly offered ex gratia payments on compassionate grounds.

Paul Law Siu-hung, president of the International Professional Insurance Consulting Association, said insurance companies involved may compensate the victims first before the latter will claim losses from Cathay and Kwoon Chung.

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TL/JC/CG

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