Next time you hop on a bus in Hong Kong, it could be as green as a walk in the park.
Dubbed the 'gBus' for green and genesis, Kowloon Motor Bus (KMB) is currently trying out a bus that it claims emits zero emissions because it runs on electricity.
The company plans to introduce the model to its fleet within a year.
KMB has leased the bus from a company in Shanghai for six months to see how it takes to local roads.
Kane Shum, principal bus engineer with KMB, said the bus runs on a super-capacitor system, which has several advantages. It can be recharged in short bursts at regular intervals without damage to the battery and it does not rely on chemical reactions to store electrical energy.
'It also runs on an anti-current system so every time the bus driver brakes, it builds up the battery,' he said.
The super-capacitor system is ideal for buses because a bus route will typically stop often, creating the ideal conditions to recharge.
For example, a 30-second charge will give the bus enough energy to travel a kilometre, so a bus driver would probably recharge it at every second bus stop.
The trial bus is a left-hand-drive model, so it can't be used in public transport here, but the supplier is currently working on a right-hand drive version that should be suitable for Hong Kong.
It is has a single deck, is 12 metres long and can carry up to 70 passengers. When fully charged (which only takes three minutes), the bus can travel with a full load with air conditioning for 5 kilometres, equivalent to the distance between Tsim Sha Tsui and Sham Shui Po. Carrying fewer passengers will mean it can travel for longer distances.
The company has set up a charging station at its Lai Chi Kok depot and the bus will travel between there and Mei Foo during the trials.
The bus will be tested under hot and wet weather conditions as well as undergoing loading and reliability tests.
KMB managing director Edmond Ho said the bus would usher in a new era for public transport in the city by adopting new technologies to create a 'cleaner and more environment-friendly Hong Kong'.
He said the electric bus would cost about the same as a conventional bus in the existing fleet, or about HK$2 million.
Two months ago, KMB submitted an application to increase its fares from to by 8.6 per cent or an average increase of 52 HK cents per trip.
A KMB spokeswoman said the plan to buy the new buses was not connected to the fare rise. When announced in July, that was blamed on higher costs and more competition.
A full charge takes three minutes to load and will carry the bus with a full load and air conditioning for about: 5km