Government must pave way for hybrid taxis

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 December, 2012, 1:45am

In Hong Kong, we have become too accustomed to exhaust fumes emitted from vehicles.

We seem to regard clear blue skies and fresh air as luxuries. I believe things can improve with the use of hybrid taxis.

They run on both petrol and electricity, so they emit less fumes. However, because they are relatively expensive, there are fears that taxi drivers will be reluctant to switch to them.

In recent years, our pollution problems have got worse. Our bad air damages the environment, affects people's health and can hurt the economy.

I am sure some foreign entrepreneurs have decided not to invest or establish a business in the city because air quality is far below an acceptable level. They make this decision reluctantly, because, in financial terms, they know that Hong Kong is a good place to do business.

I understand that the costs involved in any upgrade deters action. With rising inflation, many taxi drivers have to work long hours just to earn enough to support their families. Those who own their taxis simply cannot afford to upgrade to a hybrid model.

Also, I understand that hybrid vehicles may cost more to maintain than taxis that run on LPG, so this could impose additional costs.

The government could step in and help by working with manufacturers of hybrid vehicles. It could offer taxi owners subsidies or allow them to pay for the new, environmentally friendly vehicle in instalments.

The owners could also be offered an extended warranty over several years.

It will largely be down to the government whether the introduction of hybrid taxis in Hong Kong will be a success (which leads to cleaner air) or a fiasco.

Heidi Chau Hoi-yi, Tsuen Wan