Following is a question by the Hon Chan Kin-por and a written reply by the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung.
According to the Road Traffic Ordinance (Cap. 374), private cars aged six years or more and light goods vehicles aged one year or more must pass the annual vehicle examinations conducted by the car testing centres authorised by the Government (car testing centres) before the licences for such vehicles may be renewed. It has been reported that as some approved car testers (ACTs), who were responsible for conducting annual vehicle examinations, were arrested in recent years for allegedly accepting bribes and forging certificates of roadworthiness, the authorities have been more stringent in supervising the operation of car testing centres. As a result, the average time taken for examining vehicles has increased from 15 minutes per vehicle in the past to 45 minutes or even as long as a whole day, and consequently the waiting time for annual vehicle examinations has also become longer. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) of the respective numbers of private cars and light goods vehicles in respect of which annual vehicle examinations were applied for, as well as the number of ACTs, in each of the past three years; the anticipated rates of increase per annum in the next three years in the respective numbers of these two types of vehicles which will be required to undergo annual vehicle examinations before renewal of licences, as well as the supply of and demand for the services of various car testing centres and ACTs;
(2) whether it has plans to increase the numbers of car testing centres and ACTs in the coming year, and to simplify the annual vehicle examination procedures so as to enhance their efficiency; if so, of the details; if not, the measures the authorities have in place to shorten the waiting time for annual vehicle examinations; and
(3) of the measures the authorities will adopt to ensure that the annual vehicle examinations conducted by car testing centres are both compliant with the relevant requirements and efficient; whether the authorities currently issue temporary vehicle licences to those vehicle owners who are unable to schedule annual vehicle examinations for their vehicles prior to the expiry of their licences, so that their failure to have the licences for their vehicles renewed in time will not affect their work and daily lives; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
My reply to the various parts of the Hon Chan Kin-por’s question is as follows:
(1) Currently, there are 22 Designated Car Testing Centres (DCTCs) in Hong Kong, which are responsible for examining private cars and light goods vehicles not exceeding 1.9 tonnes. A breakdown of the number of vehicles examined at the DCTCs in the past three years is at Annex. (http://gia.info.gov.hk/general/201503/18/P201503180328_0328_143543.pdf) As at early 2015, the number of approved car testers authorised by the Transport Department (TD) is around 180, which has remained roughly the same every year. According to the TD’s understanding, not every approved car tester is engaged in full-time vehicle examination work.
According to the TD’s forecast, the number of vehicles required to undergo examination at the DCTCs in the next three years is expected to increase by around 15 000 to 20 000 annually. Based on the TD’s estimation, if the majority of the authorised approved car testers will be engaged in full-time vehicle examination work, the manpower should be sufficient to cope with the additional examination work at the DCTCs in the next three years. However, the Government also needs to consider increasing the number of DCTCs to provide more vehicle examination facilities and space, in order to cope with the additional vehicle examination demand brought about by vehicle growth.
(2) Since there is a trend of lengthening waiting time for vehicle examination, the TD is preparing for the promulgation of the updated requirements for new DCTCs shortly and will invite applications accordingly. Besides, the TD has been conducting regular reviews with the DCTCs on their daily operation and the vehicle examination process, exploring ways to improve the efficiency of vehicle examination (including upgrading DCTCs’ computer systems and equipment), etc. Six DCTCs will extend services hours (i.e. Inchcape Motor Services Ltd. (Kwai Chung), Inchcape Motor Services Ltd. (Sha Tin), Sime Darby Motor Services Limited (To Kwa Wan), Universal Cars Ltd. (Chai Wan), Universal Cars Ltd. (Kwai Chung) and Wallace Harper & Co. Ltd. (Yuen Long)) with effect from April this year. Apart from this, the TD is computerising the procedures for making vehicle examination appointments at the DCTCs, and linking up the systems of DCTCs to enable online checking of the appointment status at different centres by those who need vehicle examination service, so that they can arrange vehicle examination in a timely manner. The new system is scheduled for completion in mid-2015. Meanwhile, the TD reminds those who need vehicle examination service to book their appointments early through various publicity means, such as posting notices and posters and distributing flyers. Indeed, those who need such service may arrange annual examinations for their vehicles four months before their vehicle licences are due to expire, so that they can avoid not being able to complete the annual examination procedures for their vehicles before the licenses expire. As regards the manpower of approved car testers, the TD has been training sufficient approved car testers in response to the needs of the trade.
(3) The TD has been monitoring the situation of vehicle examination. Apart from conducting regular reviews with DCTCs to explore ways to improve the efficiency of vehicle examination, it also conducts surprise checks on the centres to ensure that the examination services are up to the standard and that sufficient approved car testers are deployed to work according to the centre’s capacity in handling vehicle examination.
The DCTCs have to examine the body structures, braking systems, light signals, etc. of vehicles to ensure road safety. Vehicles are also required to pass an exhaust emission test with a view to improving air quality. According to the information held by the TD, the time needed to complete the above tasks has remained at about 20 minutes. To ensure road safety, a vehicle which is subject to an annual examination but fail to pass it will not be issued with a licence to run on the road under the law.