The number of traffic accidents involving the two local bus concessionaires has decreased gradually year-by-year since 2018, the Transport Bureau (DSAT) indicated.
According to the department, some 335 traffic accidents were attributed to bus operators between January and October of this year, less 45 per cent than in 2019, amounting to some 0.8 traffic accidents per 100,000 kilometres travelled by Transmac and TCM vehicles.
On November 7 of this year, eight people were left injured after a Transmac bus crashed into a restaurant in Old Taipa.
While authorities had previously indicated the accident was believed to have been caused by a mechanical issue, the DSAT Director, Lam Hin San, indicated last week that a preliminary accident report seemed to show that the accident was due to the driver’s fatigue.
During the 2021 policy address debate at the Legislative Assembly, Lam revealed that authorities have discussed with bus operators Transmac and TCM for drivers to have more resting time during work shifts and that Transmac would have to compensate six of the people injured.
In its recent response, the DSAT added that its goal to reduce by 10 to 13 per cent the number of traffic accidents attributed to bus operators since 2018 has been reached every year.
‘In order to guarantee the safety of buses, this department has required the two bus operators to review the work related to safety. To this end, the two operators have adopted several measures,’ the department noted.
These measures included installing an alarm that detects the distance with vehicles and pedestrians in front of the vehicle; adding a behaviour analysis system able to monitor in real-time the work situation of drivers in order to prevent driving under fatigue and irregularities; and strengthening the response and assessment of accidents.
A reinforcement of the analysis of accidents severity and of the sanctions on drivers with severe negligence or inappropriate performance of duties was also demanded, together with an evaluation of drivers who changed vehicle or route, allowing only those who meet the criteria to return to work.
Bus operators were also asked to reinforce vehicle inspection procedures before departure and to immediately communicate problems detected to proceed with the repair; the enforcement of alcohol tests performed with drivers during shift changes; preparing reasonable planning of shifts and working hours, ensuring that drivers have sufficient rest time.
This year a new six-year concession contract with bus Transmac and TCM were signed, with incident prevention and fleet renewal requirements included in the new contract extenssions.
Last week Secretary for Transport and Public Works Raimundo Arrais do Rosário admitted that the average age of buses used by the operators was too high with no new buses purchased in the past two years.
Authorities have also revealed that video surveillance cameras installed on buses will start also recording audio, so as to better prevent and evaluate any incidents.