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Wednesday, September 7, 2016, 18:39

Second batch of 5 electric buses arrives in HK

By Dara Wang

Second batch of 5 electric buses arrives in HK
The second batch of electric buses were on display before the media on Sept 7, 2016. The buses will hit the road in Hong Kong Island on Monday on trial service. (Roy Liu/China Daily)

HONG KONG – Five new single-deck battery-powered buses will start trials on Hong Kong Island from next Monday.

This was the second batch of such government-funded environmentally friendly public transportation vehicles. The first batch of five buses in 2015 were rolled out by two of the city's major bus service providers – Citybus and New World First Bus (NWFB), both based on Hong Kong Island.

The five new buses will also serve the two companies on five routes – Citybus 11, 12, 25A and NWFB 78 and 81. All routes pass through hilly roads so their performance in climbing can be tested. An automatic transmission system is equipped on the buses to enhance their ability to go up hills, according to Assistant Corporate Communication Manager of NWFB and Citybus Kevin Li Kin-lok.

The trials will continue for two years to check the reliability of the buses, batteries and charging facilities, as well as maintenance and economic feasibility, Li said.

Li stressed that the company will pay special attention to safety issues. It will keep up maintenance work and meet with the manufacturer regularly, according to Li.

The batch of buses were designed in Hong Kong in accordance with requirements by the Transport Department and manufactured by locally owned Great Dragon International (GDI).

Each bus provides 35 seats and can carry 64 passengers at maximum. After being fully charged for five hours, these buses can run for 250 kilometers at a time.

Henry Yau Ting-hang, assistant marketing manager of the GDI, said the engines of electric buses did not contain oil refilling or exhaust systems. This means maintenance problems are reduced.

The company is considering developing double-decker buses. This will require small-sized batteries with more power being supplied as well as having a lighter bus frame, Yau said.

In 2010, the government set a policy objective of having zero emission buses running across the city. A fund of HK$180 million has been used to subsidize the introduction of 36 single-deck electric buses. The first batch of five electric buses manufactured by mainland company BYD commenced trial runs last December.

Environmentally friendly buses have already become popular overseas. In London, apart from 1,500 hybrid buses, 22 electric buses, and eight hydrogen fuel buses are currently operating out of a total bus fleet of 8,600. The Netherlands has imported six BYD electric buses in 2013. These are operating on the island of Schiermonnikoog.

In South Korea, Seoul's Gangnam District currently has more than 400 electric buses in operation. According to the city’s government, at least 3,500 electric buses will be introduced in phases until 2020, which will account for half of Seoul's bus fleet.

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