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I have been requested to forward to you a copy of the open letter to the residents of Discovery Bay on the hire car operation dated 29 June 2007 from the Commissioner for Transport in response to DBTSL’s notice dated 18 June 2007.

If you have any questions or comments regarding the open letter please do not hesitate to contact me.


29 June 2007


Dear Sir / Madam,

Re: Hire Car Operation in Discovery Bay

We learn that Discovery Bay Transit Services Limited (DBTSL) issued a notice to you on 18 June, announcing that they were giving serious consideration to terminating the hire car service completely as full compliance with the permit conditions would cut down the operational efficiency of hire cars. This has caused much concern from the residents in Discovery Bay. We would like to take this opportunity to clarify our position and stance on the operation of hire cars.

Hire car service is a personalized service operating on a contract hire basis by private cars to meet the needs of specified groups of clients. A hire car should not be used as a bus or in a similar manner. When hire car permits were issued to DBTSL, the company was well aware of the conditions contained therein and undertook to observe them before they started the service.

In late 2006, we received a complaint hire car operation about the unauthorized hire car operation in Discovery Bay. As in the case of handling other complaints, we carried out an investigation and found that DBTSL had breached the legal requirement of commencing the service without pre-recording the particulars of the hirer and journey, and the hire car permit conditions of touting and provision of service in respect of one hire car to more than one hirer at separate fares. In this connection, we issued a letter in January 2007 to DBTSL reminding the company to fulfill its obligation and observe the legal requirements and permit conditions. We would like to make it crystal clear that we have never requested nor directed DBTSL to cancel the hire car service.

Upon receipt of our letter, DBTSL requested us to grant the Company a waiver not to observe the requirements laid down in the permit conditions. However, as the request is against the legal requirement and not in line with the policy of hire car operation, we have no choice but to reject the company's request.

Notwithstanding the above, we maintain a close dialogue with DBTSL at all times, taking into account the special local characteristics Bay. Knowing the requirements of the hire car service users in Discovery Bay, we suggested that the Company should explore other alternatives to meet the residents' needs, including applying for more hire car permits, strengthening the existing Residents’ Bus Service (for instance, by increasing the frequency and amending the routes), operating shuttle services, etc. We also undertook to give due priority to these applications once received.

DBTSL shall be responsible for the planning and provision of suitable transport services for the residents of Discovery Bay. We trust that the Company will keep on providing the best quality transport services to the citizens in the area and we will always be on hand to offer advice and every possible assistance.

Yours faithfully,
(Ms Irene HO)
for Commissioner for Transport