Wan Chai District Councillor Yolanda Ng has made a public apology after her remarks during a meeting with the government led to rare union action by the city’s bus drivers.
“I’m really sorry to the general public and bus drivers, especially since this incident has upset many bus drivers and affected their work. I apologise,” Ng said on Tuesday.
Ng was embroiled in the controversy after she urged authorities during a council meeting last week to “do something” about bus drivers not pulling up at the correct stop areas outside Causeway Bay’s Sogo department store, a hotspot where taxis queue up and occupy a nearby bus stop against traffic laws.
Ng initially denied having made the request, but backtracked after an audio recording of the meeting was posted on social media.
Despite Ng’s clarification that she did not mean to single out bus drivers, unions alleged that her remarks amounted to pressure on the government to target them.
Meanwhile, in a statement released on Tuesday, the bus unions thanked Hongkongers for their understanding and support for the collection action.
They demanded a meeting with police and the Transport Department to discuss solutions “in order to put an end to this saga.”
The unions represent drivers from three major bus companies: Kowloon Motor Bus, Citybus and New World First Bus.
They began the collective action on Sunday evening in response to recent police prosecutions against bus drivers who did not pull up to their designated stop areas when loading or unloading passengers.
Drivers vowed not to let passengers alight or embark until they could park at their exact stop areas.
The unions said drivers were forced to stop outside their designated zones because of illegally parked cars.
They criticised police and the Transport Department for targeting them instead of addressing the root of the problem.
Traffic congestion was reported at several locations across the city on Monday. Traffic police officers were deployed to facilitate traffic during peak hours.
On Monday evening, a traffic police officer was filmed refusing to let a couple board a taxi outside Sogo. In the officer’s presence, no taxis lined up outside Sogo. Bus drivers were also able to park at the designated areas.
However, a photo taken in the same evening shows that cars continued to occupy a bus stop near the department store against traffic regulations.
While online responses to the union action were mostly positive, not everyone welcomed the idea.
A video posted on social media shows some people shouting at a bus driver for refusing to let passengers embark until a tour bus illegally occupying a bus stop departed. The incident took place on Morrison Hill Road on Monday.
Ng is not associated with any political party, though she founded the group “Friends of Leung Chun-ying” in support of the city’s leader. Her e-commerce company has conducted polls for pro-Beijing parties and organisations linked to the Chinese government.