Interesting article from the BBC about red minibuses in Hong Kong.
Things I already knew: red minibuses don’t follow fixed routes, and are very dangerous.
Things I learned from this: red minibuses first appeared in 1967; green minibuses started in 1980; the government wants to phase out red minibuses and replace them with the more regulated green version.
In a city with one of the world's best public transport networks, the cheap, fast, accident-prone red minibus survives.
The former British colony has the world’s largest fleet of double-decker buses, 18,000 taxis, and a spotless, efficient subway system known as the MTR. And yet, every day, thousands of people opt to ride one of the 1,138 red-topped, 16-seat Toyota Coaster minibuses that are notorious not only for their speed, but for their eccentric drivers, unregulated fares, and tendency to smash into other vehicles.
It’s a system that dates back to 1967, when the Cultural Revolution spilled over the border from China. Left-wing agitators were intent on overthrowing the colonial British government, and Hong Kong was crippled by protests, strikes and riots. When drivers from the city’s major bus companies went on strike, shared taxis that had long served the rural New Territories began to illegally pick up passengers in the urban areas of Kowloon and Hong Kong Island. The colonial government decided to legalize this additional service.
Today, the government mandates the number of seats and the type of vehicle that may be used as minibuses, which it refers to officially as “public light buses.” Other than that, drivers are free to determine their own routes and fares. Drivers are free agents who rent the vehicles for a shift — the going rate is HK$800 per day — which gives them extra incentive to drive quickly and pick up as many passengers as possible.