We have become used to using public transportation here in HK. We can get most places we need to go by city bus or by taxi. Recently we have begun using the Public Light Bus or the Mini Bus as locals call them. They are small 16 passenger buses. When we first arrived to HK an older missionary lady told me that she didn’t think she would have taken her young children on one as they are notorious for accidents. We have since heard this more than once. So I have avoided them as you can imagine.
Last month we needed to make it to a new doctor appointment. Abe told me that we could get there faster via mini bus but I declined. So instead we took a city bus the long way around. The trip took us about 90 minutes to get there. After the appointment Abe convinced me to try the mini bus and I conceded. There were seat belts on the mini bus and we arrived home in one piece (without any scares or near misses!) in just under 30 minutes!
The mini buses are usually faster as they don’t stop at nearly the amount of stops and but they just aren’t as nice. HK is quite clean and fairly affluent in many areas but when you ride on the mini bus you feel a bit like you are in a third world country. It can also be difficult to identify your bus as there seems to be many random Chinese signs posted on the wind shield of the mini buses, obscuring the posted bus number. Most mini buses are old, noisy and just dirty and dingy. I saw my first Chinese graffiti on a ripped seat cushion in a mini bus last week. An interesting feature that the mini buses have is a posted large digital speedometer. A posted sign informs passengers that the Public Light bus maximum speed is 80 km/hr. But the best part is when the bus driver hits the pedal and goes over 80 km/hr a mechanical beeping sound goes off and doesn’t stop until the speed of the vehicle is below 80km/hr. Though we aren’t sure, we think those were installed due to the bad rap of the mini buses being ‘accident prone’. I think it may be helping. 🙂
Another posted sign in the mini bus tells passengers that seat belts are required and violators will be fined up to $5,000 HK (approx. $625 US) AND imprisonment for 3 months. Yikes…. The funny thing is though I seldom see people wearing their seat belts….but you can bet we all do!
The mini bus drivers have been great though. The six of us were trying to make it on a fairly full mini bus earlier this week. There were only 3 seats available and we just about got back off the bus but the bus driver motioned us on as if to say “No problem”! So the 6 of us scrunched together (thankfully 4 of us are little people) and we made it on time! A change of heart I’ve had for the mini bus!