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  • Oct 22, 2014
  • Updated: 9:45pm
NewsHong Kong

KMB’s electric bus service gets up and humming

PUBLISHED : Monday, 09 September, 2013, 3:45pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 September, 2013, 9:48am

The city's first battery-powered electric bus entered service yesterday to see if it is suitable for the hills, humidity and busy roads of Hong Kong.

The single-decker, built by mainland carmaker BYD, will be tested on several Kowloon Motor Bus routes in the next 12 months.

The first trial will be along KMB's seven-kilometre route No2 between the Star Ferry Pier at Tsim Sha Tsui and So Uk Estate in Cheung Sha Wan. The bus will provide an extra service over the one-month trial period. The fare will remain the same.

Video: Take a ride on what could be the city's answer to smoggy skies. 

It has done 20,000 kilometres already, taking KMB staff to and from their office and depot. It has been modified to meet legal requirements and local specifications, including a low-platform design, facilities for the disabled and air conditioning. KMB expected it to be both comfortable and efficient, using one to two kilowatt-hours - or HK$2 worth of power - for every kilometre.

The firm dismissed safety fears prompted by an accident in Shenzhen last year in which an electric taxi crashed into a tree and caught fire, killing all three occupants. Also, earlier this year, a charging dock for BYD's E6 taxi in Hong Kong overheated.

Managing director Edmond Ho Tat-man said systems would be in place to monitor the temperature and voltage of the vehicle's three lithium ion phosphate batteries. "If there is any problem with any one of the three batteries, the system will cut out automatically. The bus driver can also turn off the main power supply. We will make every aspect safe before we put the bus into regular service," Ho said.

He added it was too early to work out the cost of running the bus, which has been leased from BYD, as it would be tested during the trial for power consumption and battery durability. Ho said the subtropical climate and air-conditioning needs made it "tough" to operate buses here.

On its first run yesterday, the bus was packed with passengers wanting to try it out. Among them was Leslie Chan Ka-long, chairman of Facebook group Our Bus Terminal, who found the journey satisfactory and said it was more stable than an electric bus he took in Shenzhen. "But this route won't test its performance going up or downhill," Chan said. A retiree on board didn't know the bus was making its debut. He said he was aware of the accident in Shenzhen, but had faith in the company's safety checks.

The 12-metre bus has 31 seats and room for 35 people to stand. That's two and four fewer, respectively, than the single-decker buses which run on diesel. The electric bus is one tonne heavier because of the battery weight.

The bus will be recharged at the Lai Chi Kok depot at the end of every day. Three hours of charging will provide enough power to cover 180 kilometres.

Secretary for the Environment Wong Kam-sing said the goal was for all buses in the city to eventually be zero-emission vehicles. The government had set aside HK$180 million to subsidise bus firms to buy 36 electric buses. KMB said it planned to put out a tender for 18 of the buses.



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This article is now closed to comments

The government needs to be more heavy handed and force the bus companies to change to hybrid or electric busses within a set timeframe... But of course they will not, since all the bus companies are owned by the major property developers in HK...
The headline is wrong. It should read:

'Hong Kong Enters 21st Century, Apologises for 13-year Delay'
total BS
Hong Kong's hilly terrain requires hybrid buses
Electric only buses need coal burning power stations to recharge them (gee 180kms and needs 3 hours downtime to recharge) whereas hybrids have a small Euro VI engine that only runs to charge the batteries along with braking recharge & need no downtime
London has about 350 hybrids BUT all are DOUBLE DECKERS
Edward Yau went for a joyride on one in London - so much for that Green Tech joyride - what a useless toxxer with hangers on
Nathan Rd, Causeway Bay, Mongkok are henceforth Clean Air Zones
Only hybrids, Euro V & Euro VI diesels allowed
Then mine the waters offshore to force ocean going ships 200 kms away from shore (the USA Emissions Control Area) exclusion zone in which all vessels have to use low sulfur fuel instead of bunker & we will start to be able to see across the harbor again
This is good news. I use to live beside King's Road on the 15th floor & still you can smell the diesel fumes if you have your windows open. The thing that forced me to relocate was the noise, especially at night. A bus starting to move gives off a decibel louder than an alarm clock.
Don't 100% electric buses owned by property tycoon require electricity from highly polluting coal-burning electric plants owned power company tycoon? Perhaps there is a net benefit that the gov can explain to citizens, otherwise it just seems like another case of the tycoon giveth, and the tycoon taketh away.
I applaud the great idea of electric buses for HK which is now becoming such a well-known polluted place. Now the question is >
How fast will say, 90%, of these 'highly toxic' diesel buses be replaced - I will give HK a full mark if they could do it in one year - 2 years max. Anything more than 2 years would tell me they are not serious about this deteriorating and choking air of HK. And replacing only a small percentage of the existing diesel buses will be just a joke.
electric or hybrid buses should be used as shuttles on our most polluting routes eg Nathan Rd instead of every bus in the world travelling along Nathan Rd
Nathan, Central, Kings Rd etc should be designated Clean Air Zones - only Euro V , hybrids / electric allowed as shuttles between bus termini
The all-electric buses are only single deckers and cannot carry the required loads
This is what should happen:
After all our totally useless ex Secretary for the Continued Pollution of the Environment Edward Yau took a junket to London last year for a bus ride on a hybrid bus enroute to a whiskey distillery in Scotland
take a look:
see who the junketeers were:
Finally Hong Kong gets with the program!!
Unfortunately, there are evident limitations. It looks like 180 km may be less than the average bus does in a day in Hong Kong. How long does a bus typically spend on the road each day? 12 hours? This bus, with 180 km maximum range, is only going to be good for 5.7 hours a day (20% reserve, 25 km/h average speed?). Electric buses will be a godsend for Hong Kong, just as soon as the technology can deliver the performance needed.


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