Tram takeover offers chance for eco-friendly transport policies

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 18 April, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 18 April, 2009, 12:00am

Edwin Lau Che-feng, director of Friends of the Earth (HK), has, in the Observer column ('Electric buses are a better option than cars', April 13), capably presented the objections of many residents to our government's proposal to introduce electric cars.

As with the hidden costs to the environment of fluorescent lighting, these cars will use up enormous quantities of metals and minerals and require extensive recharging facilities. The additional usage of electricity from our major polluters, the power companies, will offset most of the benefits of their zero-exhaust systems. Carmakers are merely homing in on new trends to keep their market share.

As Mr Lau points out, what our government should be pursuing is the introduction of electric buses and trams to replace more polluting forms of public transport. The management change at Hongkong Tramways should open up the debate on having a sustainable transport network. There is no reason why multi-carriage trolley buses cannot be installed on Nathan Road with a loop from Mong Kok via Olympic City through West Kowloon and linking back with the main line via Jordan Road.

The proposed harbourfront tram line should be linked with the existing Hong Kong Island line, giving better access to the Star Ferry and the Convention and Exhibition Centre, both very inconvenient to get to. This would reduce pressure on Wan Chai MTR station.

A tram or trolley service down the centre of Kai Tak, combined with restricted entry for vehicles, would leave the shoreline free for recreation, dining and water sports and create Hong Kong's first green community.

The main problem with our current tram system is not lack of air-conditioning but the many delays. These are often caused by private cars carrying one person, each driving on tram lines and holding up a line of trams. Cameras on the front of the trams identifying these vehicles would generate big fines and demerit points and eliminate these delays.

The new tram management carries no local baggage so there is no excuse for our government not to collaborate with it and forge ahead with a genuine green transport agenda.

Mary Melville, Tsim Sha Tsui