Legislators have endorsed a $261 million incentive scheme designed to encourage minibus operators to replace their vehicles with ones run on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) or electricity.
Under a move aimed at improving air quality in Hong Kong, the government has agreed to provide a one-off grant of $60,000 to $80,000 to operators for each diesel-run bus they replace.
Owners of diesel-run buses at least 10 years old must replace their vehicles by the end of 2004, while owners of diesel buses under 10 years old must do so by the end of 2005.
At the Legco Finance Committee meeting, legislators including Liberal Party vice-chairwoman Miriam Lau Kin-yee supported the funding programme, while conceding it was not ideal.
Likening the incentive scheme to 'a pot of half-cooked rice', Ms Lau cast doubt on whether there would be adequate LPG filling stations to meet the demand that would arise.
Legislators were assured that the number of LPG filling stations in the SAR would increase from 35 to 43 by the third quarter of this year.
But many lawmakers expressed disappointment that the administration had failed to take heed of members' pleas to have private-school light buses included in the grant incentive scheme.