The driver of a Hong Kong double-decker bus that overturned just before midnight on Thursday, killing one person and injuring 11 others, has been arrested.
The 58-year-old KMB driver was arrested for dangerous driving causing death and grievous bodily harm.
Police responded to the incident after a female passenger called to say the bus, the 88k route from Fo Tan, had overturned on Shing Wan Road in Tai Wai and that she had sustained injuries to her hands.
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Superintendent Lam Chuen, of the New Territories South traffic division, said the bus driver was suspected to have driven into the wrong lane before hitting a barrier and overturning.
“The force will investigate the incident on multiple fronts, including the driver’s mental state, driving speed and the road situation,” he told a press conference in the early hours of Friday.
“One passenger was certified dead at the scene.”
Lam added the site was not a traffic “black spot” prone to accidents and that officers would look at footage from car cameras and the bus’ black box.
Two passengers were listed as in serious condition as of Friday noon, while another two were in stable condition and five had been discharged from hospital.
Two people were trapped in the bus in the immediate aftermath of the incident – the 37-year-old deceased, who sat on the left side of the upper deck and sustained a serious head injury, and a woman who sat towards the back on the same deck.
KMB operations director Kwan Chi-wai said the driver had been with the company for 18 years and operated the same route since 2015.
He was working the 4pm to 1am shift when the accident happened, Kwan said, adding the driver had not worked the day prior and his shift was not an ad hoc arrangement.
The bus involved had been in service for six years and passed an inspection on November 3, he said.
The company’s safety director, Rachel Kwan Chui-lan, said the driver had an “ordinary” driving record and was involved in a minor crash with a truck earlier this year after which he received supplementary training.
The driver had also been involved in one or two minor accidents each year over the past three years, she added, but the company’s investigation showed he had not always been at fault.
The Hong Kong Franchised Bus Employees General Union said it had been advising the bus company and the government about driving safety issues, as some drivers had been asked to operate more than two routes on the same day due to manpower restrictions.
“Such a measure has long added a burden on the drivers who can easily drive the wrong route, even experienced drivers. Such a situation is not ideal,” the union said.
The organisation urged transport officials to strengthen monitoring of the issue and called on the bus company to improve service and roster arrangements.
The Motor Transport Workers General Union echoed the same concerns over the challenges faced by bus drivers, saying the company struggled with manpower shortages as it tried to minimise operational costs. It accused the company of allocating drivers to several different routes and reducing their resting time.
The union said it would meet transport and labour officials in the hopes they could intervene.
The Post has contacted KMB for comments.
In August, a bus driver, 63, was killed as his Citybus route 962B double-decker, heading from Tuen Mun to Causeway Bay, collided with a broken-down delivery van on a slip road near Ting Kau Bridge.
The 10 bus passengers were unharmed, but the driver reportedly suffered a serious head injury when his vehicle slammed into the van’s open back door.
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