Sunday, May 22, 2022

Minibus Speed Limit Monitors

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When taking the minibus, I still have that phobia of notifying the driver I am alighting.

I had that unforgettable experience when I tried to recite that often-taught phrase baahsi jam, mcoi but apparently I mispronounced it and the driver looked puzzled staring at the rear-view mirror without acknowledging my request. They usually raise their left hand as if to say, “alright, I got you”.

Before someone will call his attention and save me from embarrassment, I had to switch to English version, bus stop please. I alighted shortly, but not without red face even if I knew nobody in the minibus. I promised myself to minimize chances of taking minibuses, and if I had to, I’ll try boarding on one of those that have stop buttons or get off at places frequented by people so someone can do the honor of calling the driver’s attention on my behalf.

But seriously, it’s not a big deal. I still take minibuses primarily because they offer faster alternative to double deckers, especially on routes not served by MTR trains.

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And because of this speed, minibuses sometimes swerve on highways, causing accidents. So it was a natural instinct by the government to impose measures to ensure passenger (and driver) safety. One of which is seat belts, fixed on seats of many (not all) minibuses and required by law to be strapped while traveling. The other one is the speed meter large enough to be visible by everyone. Once the reading hits 80 kilometers per hour, a buzzer sounds apparently to alert the driver he is driving too fast, and to passengers to call the driver’s attention.

But I’ve never taken the minibus that drove beyond 80 and gets called out by passengers. If anything, we like him to stay that way so we will arrive quicker. But that’s only if the driver manages to drive smoothly (no sudden brakes or stealing lanes). The meter reader is built to theoretically measure up to 999 kilometers per hour so authorities must be very aware that hitting way above the required speed limit is very much possible.

Many drivers are past 60 years old (you can guess how old Mister Driver above) so it’s a dilemma sometimes. Is he too old to drive (bad) or is older more experienced and generally a better driver (good)?

Taking the minibus often saves us time at a fraction of the cost we pay for taxi, its closest alternative when in a hurry so it’s all worth it.

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Thanks for the photo Adrian Ling

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