Citybus condemns classic Routemaster bus to scrap heap so it can claim Hong Kong clean fuel payout
Citybus has put the last of its famous old Routemaster buses up for auction in order to qualify for a HK$730,000 clean fuel grant.
But if you think you can find a home for a design classic with gleaming red paintwork, be warned - one of the conditions for the winning bidder is that the bus must be scrapped. Which means, sadly, it can only be used for spare parts.
The 51-year-old vehicle was one of four the company bought in the 1980s and 90s and in recent years it has mostly been rented out for functions.
The company is also auctioning a 25-year-old Leyland Olympian model. The deadline to submit a tender is October 5.
News of the sale shocked bus lovers. "Shame on Citybus," one person said on social media.
Another complained: "We are not scrapping the bus, but history. Besides money, Hong Kong has nothing left."
The Routemaster No1 was built in 1964. The British double-decker is famed for its traditional design - a half-cab, front-mounted engine and open rear platform. It was designed by London Transport and built by the Associated Equipment Company and Park Royal Vehicles.
Citybus scrapped its Routemaster Nos 2 and 3 in 1993 and 1999 respectively, while No4 was destroyed in a fire in Kam Tin early this year.
Hui Hon-kit, vice-chairman of Citybus Limited Employees Union, was saddened by the sale and guessed that expensive maintenance was the reason.
"Components and parts of such an old bus are hard to find now. Routemaster No1 has to be sent to the UK for repairs. It is costly," Hui said.
However, Hui said the Routemaster No1 was valuable and he urged Citybus to think again. "The bus should stay. Why don't they make Routemaster No1 a show piece? It could be a good exhibit along the promenade."
To improve roadside air quality, the government launched an ex-gratia payment scheme last year to phase out 82,000 pre-Euro IV diesel commercial vehicles.
The scrapping of a 16-year-old double-decker entitles the owner to around HK$730,000 in grants.
Citybus said it was scrapping the buses in line with government regulations to phase out the pre-Euro IV vehicles by the end of this year.