Travelling by minibus is one of the more, er, interesting public transport experiences in Hong Kong. The main advantage is that they (usually) get you to your destination quickly, but unfortunately this is only because the drivers are contractually bound to break at least one traffic regulation for each kilometre they travel. Usually it's speeding, but you'll pleased to hear that the government has a cunning plan to deal with this.
The first part was to install large (and very ugly) digital displays showing the current speed. Well, thanks, but I already knew we were going too fast. The second part is that these wretched machines are designed to emit a loud irritating sound when they go faster than about 75 kph. Well, thanks again, but on the whole I don't think it improves the whole travelling by minibus experience.
Naturally, the driver takes no notice. I'm not sure whether passengers are supposed to hear the sound and gently remind the driver that he is going too fast, but I fear this plan may not work. I can only think of two outcomes, and neither would be favourable. So what we have here is just one more way in which travelling by minibus is made marginally less pleasant. The good news is that apparently minibus drivers are able to use their endless ingenuity to disable the loud and unpleasant noise, though sadly they can’t work the same trick on passengers with mobile phones.
They have had a similar scheme in Singapore for many years. It's part of the welcome you get to their nanny state - travelling along the highway from the airport to the city centre you hear a bell ringing when taxi is travelling "too fast". This being Singapore, it's not loud or particularly annoying, the speed is too low, and (of course) it doesn't make the slightest bit of difference. Except that I feel slightly cheated if the bell isn't ringing, because it means the driver is going too slowly.
If they want the Hong Kong scheme to work, I have a suggestion. Instead of making an irritating sound, they need a stick with a sharp pointed end that would appear in the centre of the steering wheel if the vehicle is breaking the speed limit. Or, I suppose, fit actual speed regulators, as I believe they have in lorries and coaches in the UK. It would take most of the fun out of being a minibus driver, but it would reduce the number of accidents.
On which subject there was a piece recently in The Standard on minibus drivers:
The Environment, Transport and Works Bureau replied that among the 3,146 minibus drivers involved in accidents in the past three years, 2,463 had held a driving licence for more than four years, while only 125 had held one for less than a year.
The causes of more than half the accidents remain unknown. But two of the most common reasons that could be identified were "driving too close to the vehicles in front'' resulting in 266 accidents, and "careless lane changing or overtaking'' leading to 211 accidents.
Any minibus driver who doesn't drive too close to the vehicle in front or change lanes carelessly probably hasn't been a minibus driver for very long. They soon learn the tricks of the trade!