Almost 100 bus fanatics took part in a photo shoot yesterday to freeze on film the non-air-conditioned buses that will soon vanish after serving for 80 years on Hong Kong's streets.
Kowloon Motor Bus, the only licensed bus company left with such vehicles, told the Post it planned to have a fully air-conditioned fleet 'in the first half of 2012'.
'KMB currently has about 3,900 buses operating on 390 routes,' it said. 'As of today, there will be 37 non-air-conditioned buses in our fleet, running on 10 routes.'
Yesterday, dozens of devotees from a bus enthusiast group called Bus Fan World attended the photo shoot, which KMB held at its Lai Chi Kok depot.
The event, called The Last Hot Dogs, featured two buses that were a decade old - a Dennis Dragon and a Volvo Olympian.
While some felt heartbroken at the impending loss of these once-dominant models, others called it an inevitable part of progress.
'This is definitely a significant moment,' said Dennis Ho Chuen-shun, a bus fan and an operations officer at a local bus company.
He said it was a chance to say farewell to an era.
KMB said the switch to an all air-conditioned fleet was part of its efforts to boost both service quality and environmental friendliness.
Some participants were disappointed at KMB's failure to announce when it would officially retire the old buses.
'There seem to be no plans for an official event to mark the retirement of the 'hot dogs', which is a real pity.' Dennis Law, Bus Fan World's head of membership, said.
Ho said the other bus companies, including New World First Bus and Citybus, did arrange official farewell parties before converting their fleets.
He said young bus fanatics had grown increasingly unreasonable when attempting to take pictures of buses, which might have fuelled the bus company's worries about possible accidents.
'I've seen youths rushing into car lanes in the night just to take pictures of rarely seen bus types,' Ho, 36, said.
Meanwhile, bus driver Wu Ching-tat wasn't too concerned about which kinds of buses he had to drive.
'It's just a job, after all,' he said after driving from Tsuen Wan to Mei Foo on route 38A.
'It'd be silly to talk about loving these buses.'
Wu said he did not know what it would be like driving one of the air-conditioned buses, as his 'several years' on the job had always been with the hot dogs.
He will soon find out.