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Drivers given online option for permits

Members of the public can now apply for an International Driving Permit (IDP) through an online service launched today by the Transport Department.   Users of “iAM Smart+” or eligible applicants holding a valid personal digital certificate may apply online via the GovHK website and receive their IDP by post, without the need to visit a licensing office in person.   If the submitted documents and photograph are in order, the department will normally send successful applicants their IDP by registered post within 10 working days of the online application being made.   The department reminded those who plan to drive outside of Hong Kong to allow sufficient time for the IDP applications to be processed.   Citizens may continue to submit IDP applications by visiting licensing offices in person. Appointments can be booked online or by calling 3763 8080 to save queuing time.   Drivers may also send in their IDP applications by post or via the drop-in boxes placed at licensi

3 new bus franchises granted

The Chief Executive in Council today granted new 10-year franchises to Long Win Bus (LW), Citybus’ Airport & North Lantau bus network and Citybus’ Urban & New Territories bus network.   The new franchises for LW and Citybus’ Airport & North Lantau bus network will commence upon expiry of its current franchise on May 1, 2023, and run until May 1, 2033.   The expiry date of the existing Citybus’ franchise for Hong Kong Island & Cross-Harbour bus network will be amended from June 1, 2026, to July 1, 2023, the same as that of the current franchise of New World First Bus (NWFB).   The Executive Council decided to grant a new 10-year franchise covering Citybus’ franchise for Hong Kong Island & Cross-Harbour bus network and NWFB. The new franchise will commence upon expiry of the two existing franchises on July 1, 2023, and run until July 1, 2033.   The Government pointed out that these bus companies have all along been providing proper and efficient services to passengers under their current franchises. Having been granted new franchises this time around, they have also committed to continue to invest in bus safety, passenger services and more with a view to further enhancing the quality of bus services.   Merging the two existing franchises with largely overlapping service areas will facilitate continuous improvement and rationalisation of the franchised bus network on Hong Kong Island, the Government said.   It will also enable the bus company, Citybus, to deploy its resources more flexibly for enhancing existing services or introducing new services and providing more comprehensive public transport ancillary facilities that keep up with the times for the benefit of passengers.   After merging the franchises, relevant service rationalisation proposals will be implemented progressively under the annual Route Planning Programme.   The merger exercise will not come with any changes of fares for all existing routes. Also, Citybus will strive to enhance bus service reliability and further improve its lost trip situation.   In addition, the bus companies will pursue various initiatives during the new franchise periods, including further enhancing the operational safety of franchised buses, installing more passenger shelters, co-operating with the Government in promoting the development of electric and other new energy public transport vehicles as well as improving the working environment of staff.   As for fare concessions, the Kowloon Motor Bus (KMB) monthly pass will be extended to cover LW's regular and overnight services except airbus services, ie the "E", "R", "S" and "N" routes, and a 73% fare discount will be provided for holders of the KMB Monthly Pass when travelling on LW's regular and overnight airbus routes, ie the "A" and "NA" routes.   The Government emphasised that the granting of the three new franchises paves the way for enhancing the long-term sustainability of the city-wide bus networks in terms of more efficient public bus services and more balanced competition amongst public transport operators.   Franchised buses should continue to play a vital role in the public transport system, not only for providing feeder services to the railways, but also for serving as a viable alternative to railways with the provision of reliable and quality services to passengers, it added.

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