Transport Bureau (DSAT) Director Kelvin Lam Hin San on Sunday pointed out that the government “adjusts” the city’s public bus schedule every summer holiday period, and he apologised for causing “misunderstanding” among residents due to his bureau’s “hasty” announcement last week about the reduced public bus schedule for this month.
Normally the city’s schools have their summer holiday from July to August. This year most of the schools only start their summer holiday this month due to the COVID-19-induced class suspension for several months. The government had required schools to run in-class teaching until the start of the summer holiday on 1 August.
The bureau hastily convened a press conference on Sunday evening about “adjustments to the public bus schedule during the summer holiday period”, which came after the bureau announced in a statement on Thursday that it would reduce the city’s public bus schedule from Saturday, August 1. The statement did not mention “summer holiday”, neither did it mention how long the reduced schedule would last.
The Thursday statement said that “after the Transport Bureau has assessed the operations of the various public bus routes, the public bus schedule will be adjusted starting from the first bus trip on 1 August, according to which bus passengers’ waiting time on average will increase by two to nine minutes during peak hours on weekdays.
Waiting time set to rise
“Bus passengers’ average waiting time will increase by two to five minutes during the morning peak hours from 7 am to 9 am on weekdays, while their average waiting time will increase by four to nine minutes during the afternoon peak hours from 4 pm to 8 pm on weekdays. The number of [bus] trips during the remaining period will also be appropriately adjusted,” the statement said.
The statement did not mention how long bus passengers’ average waiting time would increase during off-peak hours under the reduced public bus schedule, which took effect on Saturday.
Thursday’s statement about the reduced public bus timetable resulted in a public outcry on social media. According to posts on the Facebook page “Macau Buses and Public Transport Enthusiastic”, bus passengers’ average waiting time significantly increases during off-peak hours under the reduced schedule.
During Sunday’s press conference, Government Information Bureau (GCS) Director Inês Chan Lou underlined the fact that the government “adjusts” the city’s public bus schedule every summer holiday period. Chan also reaffirmed that the government will not reduce its spending on residents’ welfare irrespective of its decision to reduce the administrative expenses of its various public entities, adding that the reduced public bus schedule for this month was not due to the government’s decision to reduce public expenditure.
Lam pointed out that every year his bureau “appropriately” adjusts the city’s public bus schedule for the summer holiday in line with the traffic needs during the period after discussing it with schools and major community associations.
Lam noted that many schools have delayed the commencement of their summer holiday for this year due to the COVID-19 in-class teaching suspension early this year, adding that therefore his bureau has only adjusted the public bus schedule for the summer holiday starting from this month, which he said resulted in his bureau’s “hasty” announcement of the reduced bus schedule. Lam pledged that his bureau will learn its lesson from the “misunderstanding” that Thursday’s statement caused, pledging that it would announce any bus schedule changes in the future in advance in a timely manner.
Lam reaffirmed that the government has never and will not reduce its spending on Macao’s public bus service – i.e. its financial support for the city’s two public bus operators. Lam said that the government’s budget for the city’s public bus service spending for 2018 and last year amounted to MOP 1 billion and MOP 1.04 billion respectively, while its expenditure for this year is budgeted at MOP 1.08 billion.
500,000 bus passengers a day
Lam also said that the average number of public bus passengers per day had been around 350,000 when the COVID-19 epidemic emerged in Macao early this year, before increasing to 500,000 a day last month.
According to the bureau’s website, the average number of public bus passengers per day stood at 627,200 last year.
Lam said that normally the total number of public bus trips per day stands at 8,500, adding that his bureau has reduced the number of bus trips by 200 per day for this month – a decrease of about 2 per cent from the normal period. Lam insisted that the reduced number of bus trips for this month can meet residents’ public transport needs this month.
Lam also said that the government has paid the city’s two public bus operators MOP 520 million in financial support for the first six months of this year, less than the budgeted spending of MOP 540 million for this period. Lam said that his bureau expected to save MOP 2 million on public bus service spending due to the reduced public bus schedule for this month.
Lam said that his bureau allows the two public bus operators – TCM and Transmac – to arrange additional bus trips if they notice that many passengers are waiting at particular bus stops.
(The Macau Post Daily/Macau News)
PHOTO © Government Information Bureau (GCS)