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Get rid of polluting vehicles

South China Morning Post – 1 August 2011

Kowloon Motor Bus (KMB) has complained about rising fuel costs and says the government should create a stabilisation fund for the firm. Giving public money to a for-profit enterprise is a dangerous path to take.

However, it seems to me that this debate opens the door to a greater opportunity.

On the one hand, it is true that fuel costs are increasing. On the other hand, bus and minibus fleets are still largely gas-guzzling, pre-Euro V vehicles.

It would seem obvious that it would be of use for the government to spend a few billion dollars that it has in its reserves to upgrade these fleets to hybrid/Euro V vehicles.

This would greatly reduce roadside pollution levels, lower the operational costs for bus operators and benefit all citizens.

Combine this measure with regulations mandating emission levels for vehicles over the long run (10 to 20 years) to avoid operators’ inertia and I think we would have a win-win solution. As a bonus, it would also make redundant the current idling engine legislation, which is virtually unenforceable.

KMB’s responsibility to optimise its routes would still hold if it wanted to compete with other operators.

I would say this is better use of government funds than the HK$6,000 handout to permanent residents.

J. C. Clement, Tai Kok Tsui

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