New electric buses promised for major Kowloon routes for after the Lunar New Year remain warehoused as the government and bus operator have failed to reach an agreement on the routes they will serve.
The 16 single-deck BYD buses were approved by the Environmental Protection Department in November 2021 and earned “type approval” for their vehicle licences from Transport Department in January. KMB then promised to have the buses on the road “after Chinese New Year”, serving busy Nathan Road and Kwun Tong Road routes.
But the buses have failed to materialise as promised, with one bus insider saying there was still no decision on their deployment.
Transport Department says the actual time of introduction and deployment is “yet to be confirmed” and will require “further liaison” with KMB including “assessment of whether the individual routes are suitable for operation with single deck electric buses, taking into account relevant factors including passenger demand pattern and other operational considerations.”
Single-deck buses are rare on Nathan Road and Kwun Tong Road routes, with Hong Kong’s heavy triple-axle double-deckers plying those busiest routes.
KMB says the new electric single-deckers carry 81 people, 16% more than previous generation single-deckers but just 55% of the 146-passenger capacity of Hong Kong’s biggest buses. The buses have a range of 200 km after 100 minutes charging.
KMB has not yet responded to questions on the deployment delays.
Last year, the firm pledged to introduce 500 electric buses by 2025, accounting for one-eighth of the whole bus fleet. It says it ordered more than 50 electric buses in 2021, although it was also criticised for ordering 72 new diesel buses late last year.
Meanwhile KMB says it is installing more than 20,000 solar panels across depots, bus stops and even bus roofs, generating 10 million kWh annually, enough to replace 0.07% of the annual output of Daya Bay Nuclear Power Station. The bus-mounted solar panels can power the bus air conditioning systems, reducing the fuel consumption of each diesel bus by around 5-8%, says the firm.