A school bus slid into the back of a coach this morning during an amber rainstorm, injuring two young boys aged 3 and 5, and leading to fierce criticism of the school bus firm’s handling of the crisis.
According to police, the bus was travelling west along Pok Fuk Lam Road at 7.40am when the coach in front of it slowed down suddenly. “The school bus couldn’t slow down in time and hit the coach,” said a police spokesman. The Hong Kong Observatory had announced an Amber Rain warning at 7.25am and upgraded it to Red Rain at 8.05am. Police say both the driver of the school bus, Mr Ching, 58, and the coach driver, Mr Hung, 47, passed breath tests and no arrests have been made. Ambulance crews took the two boys to Queen Mary Hospital with forehead injuries.
The parent of a young child who was on the bus slammed the bus firm and the school, which they prefer not to name, for their failure to communicate. “We got a text [from the bus firm] at 7.45am saying there had been a bus incident, and it said in block capitals NO INJURIES,” said the parent. “55 minutes later we had another text [from the bus firm], saying all students are OK but two are being taken to hospital, and then a few minutes later saying a replacement bus had arrived and they would all soon be at school. But we had no confirmation they had actually arrived at school or anything from the school,” he said. The school sent an email explaining what happened at around 1.30pm.
The parent says the bus has an app tracker but said it had proved “useless” in the past. “Last week, my daughter was stuck on the bus for hours. The app just showed them at one location and then jumped to the finish, they said it would arrive in ten minutes but it took an hour and a half – so when they said this morning the children would be delivered to school in three minutes I didn’t trust that. And then we have an issue with the driver setting off before the children have their seatbelts on,” he says.
School buses have been widely criticised in recent years, with parents noting bus drivers smoking while driving and a string of dangerous crashes, including one in December 2018 which left four dead.
In 2019, there were 432 injuries in crashes involving public non-franchised buses such as school buses and shuttle buses, including four deaths, according to Transport Department figures.