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Hong Kong’s first green bus hits the road in government scheme to improve air quality

The new Citybus electric vehicles are being rolled out as part of the government’s green initiative. Photo: SCMP Pictures

The new Citybus electric vehicles are being rolled out as part of the government’s green initiative. Photo: SCMP Pictures

Battery-powered Citybus No 11 travels from Central Ferry Piers to Jardine’s Lookout, with four more to follow within a fortnight (BYD K9R ebus)

The city’s first electric bus in a government initiative to improve air quality made its maiden journey across Hong Kong Island today, with four more expected to start running within a fortnight.

The Citybus circular route No 11 – a battery-powered, single-decker bus with 31 seats – travelled from Central Ferry Piers to Jardine’s Lookout.

Its two-year trial run is part of the government’s HK$180 million scheme to improve air quality by subsidising five franchised bus companies to purchase 36 electric buses and related charging facilities for trial runs on different routes.

Two more Citybus circular routes, No 12 and 25A, are expected to start running today and tomorrow; while two New World First Bus Services’ routes, No 81 and 78, are expected to begin today and on January 5.

The two bus companies expect five more electric buses will be put into service in the first half of 2016, with an extra bus joining each of the five routes.

The buses will be assessed on their operational efficiency, performance under various conditions as well as cost-effectiveness – with the Environmental Protection Department conducting an interim review a year later.

bus 2

A department spokesman said: “As electric buses do not have tailpipe emissions, replacing conventional diesel buses with electric buses can help improve roadside air quality.”

The government is expected to set up a task force to monitor the trial runs, with representatives from franchised bus companies, the Environmental Protection Department and the Transport Department.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying announced in his policy address last year that the government would promote the use of electric vehicles and fund purchases of electric buses.

In October, the Hong Kong Productivity Council and Hong Kong Automotive Parts and Accessory Systems’ Research and Development Centre rolled out their first locally designed, single-decker electric bus for a month of road tests.

But the bus caught fire earlier this month at a Yuen Long car repair site. The cause is still being investigated.

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