Out with the old, in with the new.
As Hong Kong makes a fond farewell to its beloved vintage buses, new ones offer a hint of the future are fitting symbols of transition in a city well-known for transport efficiency.
Kowloon Motor Bus recently submitted a proposal to the Transport Department that would pave way for the first commercial operation of electric buses in the city. The new route 5M, a five-kilometer stretch between Ping Shek bus terminal in Kwun Tong, Eastern Kowloon and Eastern Road, near the old Kai Tak airport in Kowloon City, utilizes single-deck electric buses. Along its route are two charging stations which allows these buses to operate without disruption. Single-journey fare is pegged at about HK$3 (US$0.38).
Although these zero emission buses are more desirable to run at Hong Kong’s polluted roadsides, they are more expensive to procure than their diesel counterparts. Yet, KMB is gracious enough to keep fares in line with other similar routes on conventional double-decker buses.
The bus was developed by a Zhejiang, China-based coach maker, in cooperation with German bus manufacturer Neoplan. After a full charge, it can run up to 10 kilometers and sustain a continuous supply of air conditioning for up to an hour. This is better than another prototype developed by a joint venture between Volvo and Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation, which can support uninterrupted operation for only 3.5 kilometers.
While the adoption of electric buses isn’t as quickly as we hoped, this development still helps the objective of reducing air pollution, and enable Hong Kong to join early adopters such as Canada, Spain and Japan.