Clear The Air News Blog Rotating Header Image

Changes Displease Drivers, Greens

Paggie Leung – SCMP – Updated on Jan 03, 2009

Amendments to proposed rules on idling engines have failed to please either drivers or environmentalists, who regard them as either too strict or too lenient.

Taxi union leader To Sun-tong said the government had not considered drivers’ difficulties in complying with the ban. Extending the exemption from the first two to the first five taxis in a queue was no help, said Mr To, director of the taxi driver branch of the Motor Transport Workers’ General Union.

Big taxi stops near places such as the Kowloon Tong MTR station often had 30 to 40 cars lining up, he said. Exempting only the first five meant those farther back would need to switch their engines on and off at least 25 times as they moved up the queue.

Restarting an engine created 10 times as many pollutants as a continually running engine, “not to mention the damage to the vehicle”, Mr To said. He added that it was not practical to turn off the engines in hot weather.

Taxi and Public Light Bus Concern Group chairman Lai Ming-hung said drivers of green-topped minibuses were happy with the revised proposal. But he said all taxis and red-topped minibuses should be excluded from the ban on idling engines.

“The proposal will not be feasible for red minibuses because we do not have assigned stops,” Mr Lai said. “Also, we can just find another driver to sit in a vehicle to avoid being charged.”

Friends of the Earth director Edwin Lau Che-fung acknowledged the need to include some exemptions for practical reasons, but said the new exemptions for taxis and minibuses were too lax.

“The government should be stricter on static queues,” he said. “Apart from excluding the first two minibuses in a queue, only the first vehicle of each route should be exempted, and only if there are passengers on it.

“It can’t achieve the goal to reduce the emission of pollutants if there are too many exemptions.”

Echoing Mr Lau’s view, Green Power chief executive Man Chi-sum said he would accept the revised proposal if it meant quicker passage of the relevant legislation.

The revised proposal “is already the bottom line and no more exemptions should be included”, Dr Man said.

Comments are closed.