The Transport Bureau (DSAT) has claimed that buses with a stated capacity of 65 passengers may not be overloaded even if “the buses are circulating carrying over 100 passengers,” the Bureau said in a response to an inquiry from the Times.
According to DSAT, “As loading and unloading of passengers may occur in the course of transporting passengers on public buses, even for a public bus with a capacity of 65 passengers, the total number of passengers carried on a bus trip may exceed 100, but this is not overloading.”
The same bureau added that DSAT “attaches great importance to the safety of bus services,” calling on users to report unlawful or dangerous situations to the Bureau with “specific information, such as the license plate number of the buses, the time and location of the buses, so follow-up measures could be taken.”
In the Times inquiry, it was noted by several readers that several bus routes have been circulating with vehicles full, carrying many more passengers than their stated capacity.
According to Times readers, several bus routes, namely those in between the Peninsula and Taipa/Coloane (22, 33, 25, 26A, etc.) and the city center to Border Gate (3, 5, 10, etc.) have been circulating severely overcrowded in the past few weeks.
Reports from readers have stated that the buses’ capacity has been largely exceeded during most hours of the day and not just peak hours, claiming that in some cases, the buses carry almost double their stated capacity.
In response to these reports, the Times has tested some of these routes in a normal off-peak time and realized, for instance, that the bus capacity of Route 25 from Praça Ferreira do Amaral in the direction to Taipa was at least 34% above the vehicle capacity.
This overcrowding appeared to be at the initiative of the bus operators, who was directing staff to squeeze more people inside the bus and allowing passengers to enter via the rear doors.
A Times reporter observed a bus with a stated capacity of 65 passengers (30 seated and 35 standing) carry a total of 87 passengers between bus stop M172/14 – Praça Ferreira do Amaral (Lane E) and the bus stop T403 – Esparteiro/Regency, across the Governador Nobre de Carvalho Bridge.
Readers reported, in some cases, as many as 100 passengers on board buses at the same time, namely those en route to the Border Gate.
In reply, DSAT admitted that “With the gradual recovery of Macau’s tourism industry, the number of passengers on public buses continues to rise,” adding, “According to the current bus service contracts, two bus companies may increase the frequency of bus services in response to passenger flow, and have the flexibility to arrange special buses and dispatch different models of buses to meet the traveling needs of the public.”
DSAT also said, “In cases of overcrowding, bus captains will indicate to passengers to wait for the next bus, and at the same time, the bus company will be notified to allocate buses to pick up passengers.”
The Bureau also said it would “closely monitor the actual passenger flow of the buses and bus companies are required to flexibly adjust their schedules to meet the traveling needs of the public and tourists,” stating also that DSAT “will evaluate bus services objectively from various aspects through bus service evaluation and will monitor bus operation using technology.”