Part A:Relevant Regulations
1. Restrictions on the maximum overall length and the maximum gross vehicle weight of a light bus
2. Specifications of destination indicator
3. Specifications of fare card
4. Measures to enhance the safety of public light bus (PLB) operation and the quality of PLB service
4a. Requiring applicants for a PLB driving licence to attend and complete a pre-service course before being issued of the driving licence
4b. Imposing a maximum speed limit at which a PLB may travel
4c. Requiring every PLB to be fitted with a speed limiter
4d. Requiring every newly registered PLB to be fitted with an Electronic Data Recording Device (EDRD)
4e. Requiring every PLB driver to display a driver identity (ID) plate
Part B: Penalties
Part C: Defence provision
Part D: Disclaimer

 

Part A:Summary of Relevant Regulations

1. Restrictions on the maximum overall length and the maximum gross vehicle weight of a light bus (with effective from 5th Jul 2020)

To further promote the Government's policy objective on green and barrier-free transport, the Government has amended the Road Traffic (Construction and Maintenance of Vehicles) Regulations (Cap. 374A). With effective from 5th July 2020, the restrictions on the maximum overall length and the maximum gross vehicle weight of a light bus have been relaxed to 7.5 metres and 8.5 tonnes respectively.

For details of the above restrictions, please refer to 【the Regulations】, Cap. 374A, Section 6, 7, the First and the Second Schedule.

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2. Specifications of destination indicator (with effective from 5th Jul 2020)

Pursuant to Sections 50(1) and 50(2) of the Road Traffic (Public Service Vehicles) Regulations (Cap. 374D), a destination indicator must be displayed at the front of a PLB, and the destination indicator displayed must be of a design and construction specified by the Commissioner by notice published in the Gazette and comply with the colour requirements specified in Schedule 6. To align with the flexible operational mode of the PLB trade, the Government has relaxed the background colour requirement of destination indicators by means of a roller blind specified in Schedule 6 starting from 5th July 2020. The PLB operators can flexibly choose dark blue, green, yellow or red as the background colour. See Figure 1 for examples.

Figure 1: The background colour requirement of destination indicators by means of a roller blind

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In addition, since the use of electronic destination indicators has become increasingly common in view of technological development, the Government has stipulated the colour requirement of destination indicators by any other means (including electronic destination indicators) in Schedule 6. Such destination indicator must use yellow or amber words to indicate the destination on a dark and non-reflective background. See Figure 2 for example.

Figure 2: The colour requirement of destination indicators by any other means (including electronic destination indicators)

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For details of the above requirements, please refer to 【the Regulations】, Cap. 374D, Section 50 and Schedule 6 and the corresponding 【government gazette notice】.

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3. Specifications of fare card (with effective from 5th Jul 2020)

Pursuant to Sections 50(3) and 50(4) of the Road Traffic (Public Service Vehicles) Regulations (Cap. 374D), a driver of a PLB when acting as such shall ensure that, at all times when it is used for the carriage of passengers for hire or reward, there is displayed at the front of the vehicle in a prominent position a card which complies with Section 50(4)(b) and is of a design and construction specified by the Commissioner by notice published in the Gazette showing the fare chargeable for carriage to the destination indicated on the destination indicator.

Given public light bus operators commonly indicate the fare by Arabic numerals, the Government has amended the current language requirement of a fare card while the colour requirement is removed. With effective from 5th Jul 2020, fares on a card displayed on a PLB must be clearly shown in Arabic numerals with a dollar sign "$". See Figure 3 for example.

Figure 3: Sample of a fare card:

8 dollar

For details of the above requirements, please refer to 【the Regulations】, Cap. 374D, Section 50 and Schedule 6 and the corresponding 【government gazette notice】.

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4. Measures to enhance the safety of public light bus (PLB) operation and the quality of PLB service

With a view to achieving continuous improvements in the safety of PLB operation and the quality of its services, the Government proposed to amend the Road Traffic Ordinance (Cap. 374) and its subsidiary legislation in 2011. The proposed amendments were passed by the Legislative Council. The Road Traffic (Amendment) Ordinance 2012 (the Ordinance) came into effective on 13 April 2012.

For details of the amended Road Traffic Ordinance (Cap. 374); the Road Traffic (Construction and Maintenance of Vehicles) Regulations (Cap. 374A); the Road Traffic (Driving Licences) Regulations (Cap. 374B); and the Road Traffic (Public Service Vehicles) Regulations (Cap. 374D) in 2012, please refer to 【the Ordinances Amendment】.

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The measures included the following items:

4a. Requiring applicants for a PLB driving licence to attend and complete a pre-service course before being issued of the driving licence (with effective from 1st June 2015)

For improving the driving attitude of drivers, and safety and service quality of PLB, the Road Traffic Ordinance (Cap. 374) and the Road Traffic (Driving Licence) Regulations (Cap. 374B) were amended to require applicants for a PLB driving licence on or after 1 June 2015 to attend and complete a Pre-service Course for PLB Drivers, which is specified and approved by Commissioner for Transport, before being issued of the PLB driving licence. (Note: These Regulations do not apply to those who have already applied for the relevant driving test before the implementation date)

For details, please refer to 【the Regulations】, Cap. 374B, Section 8A

Please click 【Here】for the details of implementation of pre-service course

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4b. Imposing a maximum speed limit at which a PLB may travel (with effective from 13th April 2012)

Section 40 (5A) of the Road Traffic Ordinance (Cap. 374) stipulates the maximum speed limit of 80 kilometres per hour (km/h) for PLBs when travelling on roads, an offender commits a crime. Although the maximum speed limit is set at 80 km/h for PLBs, any person who drives a PLB on roads is still subject to any speed limit indicated on the traffic signs on the road sections concerned, which may be lower than 80 km/h.

For details, please refer to 【the Regulations】, Cap. 374, Section 40.

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4c. Requiring every PLB to be fitted with a speed limiter (with effective from 13th April 2012)

Pursuant to Section 24B of the Road Traffic (Construction and Maintenance of Vehicles) Regulations (Cap. 374A) every PLB must be fitted with an approved speed limiter that has been installed by an authorized speed limiter installer. The speed limiter must be maintained in good and efficient working order; and should be examined and sealed by the Transport Department(TD). A plate marked with the information specified in the Ordinance must be affixed on a fitted speed limiter or on a place adjacent to the speed limiter. No alteration in respect of the design and accuracy may be made to a fitted speed limiter, except as permitted in writing by the Commissioner for Transport.

In addition, the Ordinance requires a sign containing only the words "THE MAXIMUM SPEED OF THIS VEHICLE IS LIMITED TO 80 KM/H" and the characters "本車最高時速限於 80 公里" must be displayed in a conspicuous position in the passengers' compartment of every PLB. The characters and words of the sign must be at least 50 mm high and legible at all times when the vehicle is in service; and the sign must be kept free from any obstruction which might prevent it from being easily read by passengers. A sample of the sign is shown below:

The maximum speed of this vehicle is limited to 80 KM/H

For details, please refer to 【the Regulations】, Cap. 374A, Section 24B and Schedule 17;

For details of the requirements related to authorized speed limiter installer, please refer to 【the Regulations】, Cap. 374A, Section 120AA;

Please click 【Here】for the details of implementation of pre-service course

Matters requiring attention:

1. For a PLB which has been installed with a speed limiter before the commencement of the Ordinance as per the passenger service licence and PLB vehicle licence conditions, the speed limiter is an approved type and it was installed by an authorized installer as shown in the "List of TD Approved Speed Limiters and Installers", and the speed limiter has passed TD actual speed test with its controller sealed, and the seal and set speed remain intact after commencement of the Ordinance, the PLB is deemed to comply with the requirements in the Ordinance. There is no need for the PLB owner to arrange vehicle inspection immediately after the commencement of the Ordinance. In future, TD will examine during annual vehicle examination the seal of the speed limiter to check if there is any damage, and the installation method of the speed limiter to inspect whether there is abnormality or alternation. Random actual running test of the device by equipment will be conducted.
 
2. If a vehicle owner or driver finds the speed limiter damaged or not working properly, a signal telltale will prompt up. Vehicle owner or driver should arrange inspection and repair for the speed limiter with expedition. If the TD seal on the speed limiter has been broken, the vehicle owner or driver should quickly arrange for inspection by an authorized speed limiter installer, and make appointment with TD to re-seal the device.
 
3. From June 2010, TD, through a new condition in the passenger service licence and vehicle licence, required all PLBs to be installed within 3 months from the effective date of the first issue, or the first renewal, of the vehicle licence with an approved speed limiter. On 13 April 2012, when the Ordinance was effective, the grace period arrangement provided under the condition of vehicle licence and passenger service licence became ineffective at the same time.
 

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4d. Requiring every newly registered PLB to be fitted with an Electronic Data Recording Device (EDRD) (with effective from 13th April 2012)

EDRD is a device which records and stores running data of a vehicle digitally. It includes sensors (for sensing running data of a vehicle), the on-board device (for transmitting data to the recording medium), the recording medium (for storing data) and an analysis system comprising the analysis software and reader.

Pursuant to Sections 24C and 120AA of the Road Traffic (Construction and Maintenance of Vehicles) Regulations (Cap. 374A), every PLB bust be fitted with an approved EDRD that has been installed by an authorised EDRD installer. A fitted EDRD must be maintained in good working order; pass TD examination and be sealed by the TD. A plate marked with the information specified in the Ordinance must be affixed on a fitted EDRD or on a place adjacent to the EDRD. No alteration in respect of the design and accuracy may be made to a fitted EDRD, except as permitted in writing by the Commissioner for Transport. In addition, Schedule 19 of the Regulations also specifies the installation and performance requirements of an EDRD to be fitted on PLBs.

The Secretary for Transport and Housing has specified by notice in gazette, that all new public light buses first registered on or after 1 Dec 2014 must be fitted with an EDRD.

Moreover, the Ordinance empowers Commissioner for Transport to retrieve data stored in an EDRD to ensure the proper functioning of an EDRD and enhance monitoring of PLB services and operation when conducting examination of PLB fitted with EDRD. Moreover, to facilitate investigation of accidents and other offences under the Road Traffic Ordinance (Cap. 374) and its subsidiary legislation as well as law enforcement involving PLB operation, the Ordinance also empowers the police to retrieve data stored in an EDRD and provide for the use of that data as evidence in any criminal proceedings.

For details, please refer to 【the Regulations】, Cap. 374A, Section 24C and Schedule 19;

For details of the requirements related to authorized EDRD installer, please refer to 【the Regulations】, Cap. 374A, Section 120AA;

Please click 【Here】for the information about approved models of the EDRD and authorized EDRD installers.

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4e. Requiring every PLB driver to display a driver identity (ID) plate (with effective from 13th April 2012)

The passenger service licence of PLB requires the licence holder to cause to be displayed inside every PLB used for provision of service a PLB driver ID plate. The requirement is to enhance the professional image of PLB drivers and the PLB service quality.

Pursuant to Section 51 (5A) of the Road Traffic (Public Service Vehicles) Regulations (Cap. 374D), when a PLB is standing for the purpose of picking up passengers, or being used for the carriage of passengers, for hire or reward, the driver must display in a PLB a PLB driver ID plate in holder both of which must comply the specifications specified by the Commissioner by notice in the Gazette. The PLB driver ID plate and PLB driver ID plate holder should not be in any way obscured. PLB driver who fails to comply with the requirements is an offence.

The PLB driver ID plate mentioned above:

(a) must be of the size, design, form and construction, and displayed in the position in the public light bus, as specified by the Commissioner by 【notice in the Gazette】;
 
(b) must show the captions "PUBLIC LIGHT BUS DRIVER IDENTITY PLATE" and "公共小巴司機證";
 
(c) must show the driver's full name as shown in his identity card in English and, where appropriate, in Chinese; and
 
(d) must bear the driver's photograph taken not earlier than 12 months before the day of display.
 

The PLB driver ID plate holder mentioned above:

(a) must be of the size, design, form and construction, and displayed in the position in the public light bus, as specified by the Commissioner by 【notice in the Gazette】;
 
(b) must show the vehicle registration mark of the public light bus.
 

Attention:

1. Transport Department would like to remind PLB operators and trade associations, if the minibus driver you/ your company hired does not have a valid PLB driver ID plate, please ask them to immediately go to the Transport Department's authorized agents to apply for the driver ID plate.
Please click 【List of the authorized agents】 for information of the authorized agents.
 
2. If a PLB driver losts his/her PLB driver ID plate, he/she should immediately report the loss to the police and apply for a new PLB driver ID plate via the authorized agents.
 
3. With effective from 6 October 2018, the validity period of the PLB Driver ID Plate has been changed from one year to ten years. The PLB Driver ID Plate issued before 6 October 2018 has expired and is replaced by the new PLB driver ID plate as shown below. The expiry date is indicated on the new driver ID plate so that PLB drivers will know the time they need to renew the PLB driver ID plate.
 

Figure 4: Sample of the new PLB driver ID plate

Sample of the new PLB driver ID plate (front) Sample of the new PLB driver ID plate (back)

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Part B:Penalties

To better achieve our objective, the Ordinance has introduced penalties for offences. Please click 【Here】 for the information summary of the penalties.

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Part C:Defence provision

It is a defence in any proceedings in respect of a contravention of regulation 24B(4)(b) or 24B(7) of the Road Traffic (Construction and Maintenance of Vehicles) (Cap. 374A), concerning the requirement for sealing the speed limiter; and regulation 24C(5)(b) or 24C(7) of the same regulations concerning the requirement for sealing the EDRD, to prove that at the time when the contravention was detected steps had already been taken to have the fitted speed limiter or EDRD sealed, or resealed, with all reasonable expedition.

In addition, it is a defence in any proceedings in respect of a contravention of regulation 24B(4)(c) of the Road Traffic (Construction and Maintenance of Vehicles) (Cap. 374A), concerning the requirement for maintaining a fitted speed limiter in good and efficient order; and regulation 24C(5)(c) of the same regulations concerning the requirement for maintaining a fitted EDRD in good working order, to prove that –

a) the defect occurred in the course of the journey during which the contravention was detected; or
 
b) at the time when the contravention was detected steps had already been taken to have the defect remedied with all reasonable expedition.
 

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Part D:Disclaimer

The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is not liable, directly or indirectly, for any form of claims, losses or damages special or consequential arising out of or in connection with the use of or reliance upon any of the information contained or implied in this website. You should refer relevant Ordinance or/ and subsidiary legislation for the exact provisions of the offences and penalties mentioned, and consult your legal advisor where necessary.

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