5,000 LPG-fuelled taxis to hit the streets next year

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 07 July, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 07 July, 1999, 12:00am

Up to 5,000 new taxis fuelled by LPG will be on the streets next year as officials go ahead with a mandatory switch from diesel.

The Government said it would not levy duty on liquefied petroleum gas taxis to encourage drivers to make the change.

The Planning, Environment and Lands Bureau said yesterday it would also grant land to oil companies to set up a filling network.

LPG stations will be set up in Chai Wan, Western, Kwun Tong, the West Kowloon Reclamation Area and Tai Po. A further 19 petrol stations will be refitted for LPG.

In return, oil companies will keep the LPG price lower than diesel.

'We are now discussing with oil firms a formula to set the LPG price. Our aim is to lower the costs of operators,' principal assistant secretary Thomas Chan Wai-ki said.

The bureau estimated there would be 3,000 to 5,000 new LPG taxis on the roads next year.

Under the plan, all new cabs would be fuelled by LPG and the bureau hopes all 18,000 diesel taxis will be gone by 2004.

LPG taxis cause less pollution and are free of smoke.

Legco transport panel chairman Miriam Lau Kin-yee said the scheme would be unpopular if the Government failed to provide enough incentives for drivers.

She supported drivers' calls for the administration to subsidise new LPG taxis.

At present, the cost of an LPG taxi is about $20,000 less than a diesel taxi.

The Transport Department is considering a legislative amendment to include LPG taxis in its emission checks programme.

The Vocational Training Council has trained 84 LPG mechanics and plans to train 180 professionals each year to meet the demand.