The Transport Bureau (DSAT) said in a statement on Tuesday that the government has renewed the service contracts with the city’s two public bus operators — Transmac and TCM, which will expire tomorrow, for another 14 months.
Following the 14-month extension, the two operators’ current contracts will expire on December 31 next year, the statement noted.
The statement said that the government signed the contracts with the two companies’ representatives on Tuesday.
Secretary for Transport and Public Works Raimundo do Rosário told reporters on October 18 that the government had decided to renew the two bus companies’ current contracts for another 14 months as it has still not been able to reach a consensus with them about certain details about their future contracts.
The policy secretary also said at that time that he was sorry about the government’s failure to reach a consensus with the two bus companies despite “repeated” discussions on the matter so the government needed to extend their contracts for another short period, following the renewal of their current contracts for another 15 months in late July last year.
At that time, on October 18, Rosário declined to disclose the stumbling blocks that prevent the government from striking a new deal with the two public bus operators.
Speaking to reporters on Sunday, DSAT Deputy Director Chiang Ngoc Vai said that as the government is still discussing the future contracts with the two companies, it could not reveal any details about its ongoing negotiations with them. Chiang said that the government choose not to disclose details about the negotiations as they are still ongoing, so as to “avoid the outcomes of the negotiations being adversely impacted”.
Chiang also said on Sunday that the government does not rule out the possibility of opening a public tender for the city’s public bus services if it still could not strike a deal with the two bus companies before their renewed contracts expire at the end of December next year.
In late July last year, the government renewed its service contracts with Transmac and TCM – which were then to expire on July 31, 2018 – for another 15 months, which extended their contracts until October 31, 2019. As TCM and the now-defunct public bus operator New Era were merged on August 1 last year, the government only needed to renew its contracts with TCM and Transmac at that time.
A statement by the Transport Bureau (DSAT) at that time – late July last year – said that the government would need more time to discuss with Transmac and TCM certain details about their future contracts, adding that it therefore decided to renew the two companies’ contracts for a short time – just 15 months – before the new contracts could be finalised.
Since the government extended its service contracts with Transmac and TCM for another 15 months in late July last year, both Rosário and Transport Bureau (DSAT) Director Kelvin Lam Hin have kept mum on details about the government’s ongoing negotiations with the two companies about their future contracts.