Around 250 people, mainly youngsters, had joined the queue to ride the first electric 5B today. With a bus capacity of just 125, some would be disappointed.

Hundreds of eager bus fans queued for hours to secure a place on Hong Kong’s first commercial electric double-decker bus today as it plied the busy 5B route between Causeway Bay and Kennedy Town.

One youngster at the head of the 250-strong queue said he arrived at the Hong Kong Stadium bus stop at 8am, four hours before the scheduled departure at noon, and that he had heard about the launch through the CityBus Facebook page.

Speaking before passengers embarked, Bravo Corporate Communications Manager Andy Tsang said the 5B route was chosen as it was relatively flat and offered a good testbed for the heavy double-decker.

Bravo’s Corporate Communications Manager Andy Tsang (right) and CityBus and New World First Bus General Manager for Operations Roger Ma at the launch at Hong Kong Stadium this morning

Routes 20, 20A and 22M between Kai Tak  and Tai Kok Tsui, Tsim Sha Tsui and To Kwan Wan should be in operation by 4 July, subject to approval from Transport Department, says the company.

According to Tsang, there are no charging stations en route, with the bus needing to return to the Chai Wan depot for charging. Tsang said he hoped regulators would soon approve charging stations built at Hong Kong Station.

In the meantime, Tsang said the bus could make three return trips of the 5B route between Hong Kong Stadium and Kennedy Town, giving it an effective range of around 80 km including the trips between route head and the Chai Wan depot.

Tsang also revealed the company’s first hydrogen bus would be arrive “within weeks”, and that the company would be testing both battery electric and hydrogen fuel-cell buses side by side. But he said the regulatory process was slow and the hydrogen bus wouldn’t be ready for demonstration on public streets for “some time”.

The 11.9km route took 51 minutes, with a moving time of 43 minutes and an average moving speed of 15.1 kph

Transit Jam followed the bus by bicycle, measuring an average moving speed at around 15.1 kph for a distance of 10.91 km and a total time of 51 minutes.

Aside from being much cooler and cleaner to approach from behind, there was no discernible difference in how the bus operated in terms of acceleration and braking.

Passengers enjoyed the ride, with one youngster in Kennedy Town claiming it had been “full of joy”.

The driver noted the jam-packed bus had been “very heavy”.

The bus packs around five tonnes of batteries which can charge in around three hours through a 150kW charger.

Earlier, bus expert Paul Bromley, managing director of Phoenix Consulting, had said the high-capacity battery design approach has “compromised the passenger carrying capacity” with, he said, around 11 fewer seats and 11 fewer standing passengers

Bravo executives, who had been seen showing Chief Executive Carrie Lam around the double-decker in April, were absent from the launch this morning, and staff present would not answer questions on the relationships between Bravo, investor Templewater and bus maker Wisdom. “You will have to ask Templewater,” said Bravo’s Tsang.

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