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Idling Engines

Transport Sector In Idling Show Of Force

Timothy Chui – Wednesday, January 09, 2008 – The Standard

Transport sector representatives yesterday told lawmakers the proposed ban on idling engines is impractical for their trade.

Packing the Legislative Council chamber in response to a public consultation over idling engines, more than 40 representatives said only allowing the first two vehicles at taxi and public light bus stands to keep their engines running would be unworkable as some minibus stands service multiple routes.

They also pointed out that the no-idling rule would mean taxis starting their engines nearly 30 to 40 times a day. Kowloon Taxi Owners Association chairman Yum Tai-ping said this would reduce battery life to one to two months from eight to 10 months.

Many taxi organizations also resented being included in the ban after having complied with calls to switch over to liquefied petroleum gas.

Taxi Operators Association chairman Leung Shiu-cheong warned that forcing taxis to switch off engines when it rains would be dangerous. Leung said without air-conditioning the windscreen would be clouded, and reduced visibility could pose risks when the driver takes off again.

China, Hong Kong and Macau Boundary Crossing Bus Association secretary-general Chan Chun-yee said the windows of many coaches cannot be opened for circulation and that temperatures inside the cabins can reach 60 degrees Celsius in the summer without air-conditioning.

The transport representatives said a ban would hurt quality of service and undermine their trade because passengers and tourists would be reluctant to travel in a sweltering cabin.

Liberal Party lawmaker Howard Young sympathized with the representatives, but said: “We must all accept one point – if we want to improve air quality we have to accept a price … We shouldn’t just focus on cost. I understand if you have to start engines more often it would aggravate wear and tear, but we have to be prepared to pay a certain price and the level of comfort is the same.”

Exemptions were proposed for turbo-charged and air-brake trucks by Kowloon Truck Merchants Association chairman Leung Kun-kuen who said the two systems needed five minutes to idle before shutting down.

The Hong Kong Institute of Engineers joined calls for the ban to be adjusted for different engine types, but it added that the intentions of the bill could also be served by raising the excessively low temperatures inside franchised buses.

Annelise Connell, a spokeswoman for Mini Spotters, a group of activists pushing for fuel efficiency, gave six examples of police not enforcing existing laws and expressed the hope that any law aimed at reducing idling engines would have enough resources for enforcement.

Conservancy Association director Hung Wing- tat said most cases of idling engines by taxis, buses and coaches occurred in urban business areas with tall buildings and poor ventilation. This would compound roadside pollution, Hung said.

The environmental affairs panel decided to extend its hearing of public views to next Wednesday.

Clear The Air 10th Anniversary Party

The charity volunteer organization, Clear the Air, now boosting a membership of 500, drew a large turn out for the occasion, including new members and representatives of other environmental organizations, such as Clean Air Action Group, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Green-Sense and the Environment Protection Department.

The purpose of the gathering went beyond the anniversary celebration;  it was also an opportunity to present the evolution of the group from its inception until the present,  and define directions for the years ahead.  In addition, the aim was to attract new people who would be interested in getting involved in committees that require more hands, such as communication, campaigning, energy, town-planning and diesel engines.

Mr Tony Lee of the EPD presented the consultation paper on the proposal to ban idling engines and asked for support to have this bill passed.

Ms Catherine Touzard talked about her book, “Going Green in Hong Kong,” a comprehensive guide to everyday life and how we can all actively participate in affecting the environment.

The Lucky Draw was a stunning light-weight, foldable, urban bicycle that was graciously sponsored by GUM Ltd and happily won by Cathy Carroll.

The Chair, Christian Masset, in a short talk, highlighted the evolution of the group, the constant need to tackle pollution at the source while promoting renewable energies and emission-less vehicles.

In regard to the latter, a short video was shown on the air car, a zero-emission vehicle designed by MDI and soon to be produced in India.

Engine idlers may get warnings

Published in Environment on on November 3rd 2007:

Engine idlers may get warnings

Along with issuing fixed-penalty tickets to drivers who do not switch off their idling vehicle’s engine, the Government is considering issuing warning letters to these drivers upon receiving public complaints, Deputy Director of Environmental Protection Carlson Chan says.

Speaking on a radio talk show today Mr Chan said complaints are often received from the public about pollution caused by drivers that leave their engines running while their vehicle is stopped, and is studying ways to curb the problem.

He agreed that certain old turbo engine models require an idling time before being switched off or their lifespan will be shortened. The Government is consulting local vehicle importers to investigate which models should be granted exemption.

The Government has launched a five-month public consultation on its proposal to ban idling vehicle engines. It is aimed for a mid-2009 implementation.

Mr Chan said a total ban is necessary because air and noise pollution caused by idling vehicles are a nuisance regardless of place and time.

Drivers in Toronto can still switch on engines when their car is stopped if the temperature is below five degrees Celsius or over 27. Mr Chan said the Government open to similar suggestions.

The Government will consult District Councils in the coming five-months, but he said it does not want to add too many exemptions on top of those in the consultation document, as they may pose many difficulties for enforcement.

Mr Chan said the ban will greatly improve pollution on the roads and the rationale is to raise public concern and involvement in environmental protection.

Benefits Of Idling Ban Unclear

Saturday November 3 2007

Chester Yung SCMP

Tell us what good forcing engine switch-off will do, say experts

Scientists and engineers said the proposal to ban idling vehicle engines left unanswered key questions about the extent to which it would reduce air pollution. They urged the government to provide more data to justify the initiative.

‘What is the reduction in emissions after the ban? What is the improvement to air quality? These are the most essential questions and the government still owes us the answers in the consultation paper,’ said Alexis Lau Kai-hon, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Science and Technology.

Professor Lau said the government should be able to release precise calculations of the expected reductions in emissions of sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and respirable suspended particulates. ‘I can’t judge whether it is a feel-good policy or an effective tool when these questions are still unanswered,’ he said.

Lo Kok-keung, of Polytechnic University’s mechanical engineering department, said the ban could improve roadside air quality but the information released lacked details.

‘Perhaps the government is still unable to come up with a rough estimate and that’s why it hasn’t put it in the consultation paper,’ Mr Lo said.

He estimated the pollutant emissions in busy districts such as Causeway Bay and Mong Kok could drop by 10 per cent if a ban was implemented.

In the consultation paper, the government compares the emissions of vehicles while running and when stationary with engines idling.

An idling diesel-engined public light bus emits about half the pollutants of one in motion. Cars running on petrol emit almost as much carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons when their engines are idling as when they are in motion.

The government admits emissions from idling engines are ‘small in quantity as compared to emissions from the entire vehicle fleet’, but says they cause air pollution and noise nuisance to nearby pedestrian and shops.

There are 550,000 vehicles on Hong Kong’s roads.

Fung Man-keung, lecturer in automotive engineering at the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education, said engines must be switched off for at least three minutes for there to be any effective reduction in the pollutants emitted.

‘According to overseas studies, if a driver keeps turning an engine on and off every two minutes, the time the engine is turned off has no significant impact on pollution and the action merely speeds up the deterioration of engine components,’ Mr Fung said.

Au-yeung Ming, a spokesman for the Motor Transport Workers General Union, which opposes a ban, said vehicle starter motors would wear out much more quickly if the proposal became law.

He estimates the lifespan of a starter motor would be shortened by two years, to five years.

‘If we keep switching the engine on and off while waiting in a long queue, we will only emit more pollutants,’ Mr Au-Yeung said.

Pollution hazard

Vehicles are the second-largest source of air pollution in Hong Kong, contributing to 25% of respirable suspended particulates, 25% of nitrogen oxides and 15% of carbon dioxide

While idling engines do not contribute as much as those in motion, the white paper recognises the problems they cause at ground level in congested areas, and the growing number of complaints

Exemptions from the ban include:

Vehicles which stop at the roadside to let passengers board or alight; the first two taxis or public light buses at a stand; vehicles remaining motionless because of traffic conditions such as traffic congestion, security vehicles

New Law Could Curb The Idlers

Published in the SCMP on the 10th of October 2007:

New Law Could Curb The Idlers

The reply from the commissioner of police (”Police willing to take action”, October 4) to Gareth Jones (”Idling engines add to pollution”, September 18) misses the point.

Choi Wong Fung-yee states that “Waiting [in certain areas] is allowed provided that the vehicle does not cause an obstruction.” The key is that, as the law currently stands, it is not illegal to leave your vehicle’s engine idling while waiting which means many vehicles are indiscriminately spewing out noxious fumes that add to Hong Kong’s pollution problem.

Perhaps the commissioner of police could tell us why the law still allows for idling engines? As we have proved with Clear The Air’s idling engine street patrols, most drivers are willing to switch off idling engines when reminded.

We have also found a significant number of vehicles that are idling, are also breaking a traffic law such as vacating the vehicle to deliver products, double parking (thus blocking traffic) or parking illegally.

Therefore the police should be more vigilant in regards to idling engines. We need a no-idling engine fixed penalty law enforced by the police to keep our streets safe and our air clean.

Amy Ng, Clear The Air

Clamp Down On Idling Engines, Greens Urge

Published in the SCMP on the 10th of October 2007:

Clamp Down On Idling Engines, Greens Urge

Green groups have urged the government to crack down on motorists who leave their engines idling while parked, saying this is a major contributing factor to Hong Kong’s air pollution problem.

Clear The Air and the Clean Air Action Group patrolled Mong Kok yesterday, where they say they saw at least 100 drivers who left their engines running.

Members of the two groups launched their patrols in Tung Choi Street and Fa Yuen Street from 11am to 5pm and renewed their call for a city wide ban on idling engines.

“There is no public consultation, no policy to tackle this issue. Our government has done nothing to curb the pollution from idling engines,” said Amy Ng Yuk-man, chairwoman of Clear The Air’s idling engine committee.

Ms Ng said vehicle and vessel emissions were responsible for most of Hong Kong’s locally produced air pollution.