It looks as if another city has joined the growing chorus of those replacing gas burning mass transit fleets with electric buses. Hong Kong this part week fired up its first ever franchised, battery powered electric bus as part of a new program to provide better air quality for the millions of people who call it home.

Manufactured by Chinese automaker BYD much in the same fashion as other electric buses this company has deployed around the world, the eBus is first being introduced to the streets of Hong Kong by regional bus operator Kowloon Motor Bus (KMB). It is a single deck design, measuring 12 meters in length, and can carry a maximum of 66 passengers while running at a top speed 0f 70 km per hour. It is powered by lithium iron phosphate batteries, which take about

about three hours to be fully charged by means of a cable in the charging station of the bus depots, which is plugged into the eBus socket. When fully charged, eBus can travel distances of more than 180 km.

Safety seemed to be a particular concern before bringing this electric bus to local streets, as it is equipped with “specially designed enhanced features. The battery-monitoring system allows bus captains to check the voltage, current and temperature of each battery and turn off the electricity supply if necessary. In addition, the electricity supply will automatically be turned off if any abnormality is detected.”

image via KMB
image via KMB

KMB took possession of this first eBus a year ago, first testing it out for seven months with no passengers. It was then used to shuttle staff, with about 20,000 trips being logged. Plans call for it to now be run on one of the busiest roads in Hong Kong, in the morning and evening peak hours for one month. After this its operational performance will be reviewed.

As part of the greater plan by Hong Kong officials around greening mass transit, it has “allocated $180 million to fund the franchised bus companies, including KMB, to procure 36 electric buses for trial in different bus routes.” In addition, it will subsidize these same operations to retrofit some 1,400 regular buses with selective catalytic reduction devices to cut down on air pollution.

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