SCMP Monday, July 9, 2001

Bus firms urged to switch off televisions


The Citizens Party is urging bus operators to switch off the televisions on at least half their buses to give passengers a chance to enjoy a quiet ride.
The party will launch its campaign this week after meeting New World First Bus representatives tomorrow.
The campaign comes after First Bus announced last month it had teamed up with Mobile Media - a group headed by local entertainment firm Star East - to provide TV "infotainment" on all its 730 buses. TV screens run by Roadshow, a subsidiary of KMB Holdings, were installed on about 2,000 Kowloon Motor Bus and Citybus vehicles in December, but passengers found them too noisy and distracting.
Citizens Party vice-chairwoman Catherine Ng Wah-hung met Transport Department officials last Wednesday to push for a ban or reduction in the number of televisions on buses. She accused them of siding with the bus firms and said they told her advertising revenue from the TV broadcasts would pay for the development of a Global Positioning System (GPS) for the buses.
"The officials admitted [passengers] sitting in the so-called 'quiet zones' could still hear the noise but they urged the passengers to be tolerant and understanding given the potential benefits of GPS," she said, adding that current noise-reduction measures were inadequate.
First Bus said it would not comment until after tomorrow's meeting. KMB and the department said they would study the party's proposals. In a Transport Department survey in March more than 60 per cent of 300 passengers questioned found the TV service acceptable.