KMB aims to charge up first electric bus route

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 27 April, 2012, 12:00am

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Hong Kong's largest franchised bus operator hopes to introduce the first electric buses to its fleet in the middle of next year, based on electricitystorage technology developed on the mainland.

Kowloon Motor Bus submitted a proposal to the Transport Department last month to run a circular route in east Kowloon using single-deck electric buses.

The new 5-kilometre route 5M will run between Ping Shek bus terminal and Eastern Road near the old Kai Tak airport. Two charging stations at bus stops, using super-capacitor technology, will allow the zero-emission bus to get electricity from hanging wires through a pantograph extended from its roof.

KMB managing director Edmond Ho Man-tat said the company intended to keep fares in line with prices on similar routes, even though the green bus may be more expensive to buy than its diesel counterparts. 'It is too early to tell how much such a bus will cost as we still have to discuss it with the supplier, but determined by the existing mechanism, the fare for this route is likely to be about HK$3,' Ho said.

The bus company also proposes to invest about HK$300 million on an electric bus network at Kai Tak before the completion of a HK$12 billion monorail in 2023.

Developed by Youngman, a coach maker in Zhejiang province, in co-operation with German bus manufacturer Neoplan, the single-decker electric bus KMB plans to use can run for up to 10 kilometres after being fully charged and can sustain a continuous supply of air conditioning for up to an hour.

The range more than doubles the design range of the gBus, made by a joint venture of Volvo and Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation, which was tested last year and was found to have an actual range of about 3.5 kilometres with the air conditioning running.

KMB principal engineer Kane Shum Yuet-hung said the extension of the range was made possible by improved technology in the capacitors used to store the electricity.

'The technology has advanced and perhaps, in the future, it might be able to support a double-decker too,' he said.

Shum said a 10-kilometre range - the distance between Tsim Sha Tsui and Kwai Fong - was ideal for urban commuting but hoped it could be increased to serve more areas.