There are three major obstacles of slow development of EV bus in HK:
According to the Environment Bureau, the technology of double-deck electric buses is still developing and there are very few models available. Also their operational efficiency cannot meet the operational needs in Hong Kong, including the need to tackle hilly terrains.1
Charging area options
There are limited land and space in Hong Kong for charging infrastructure that is required for battery electric buses. Bus operators might need to extend the bus depots to install the charging infrastructure and extra parking areas.
The Pilot Green Transport Fund (PGTF), established by the Environmental Protection Department, has been ineffective in driving research, development and deployment of Zero Emission Bus technology in Hong Kong. By the end of 2019, only 36 electric buses were operating in service, accounting for only 0.5% of public buses in Hong Kong.
The EV Roadmap unveiled by the Secretary for Environment in March 2021 lacks new thinking to address to existing challenges, especially on the aspect of electrifying commercial vehicles (CV) and public transport (PT). The government will only set a timetable for electrifying CV and PT around 2025.
Electrification of the vehicular fleet must proceed in well-planned steps, and thus the HKSAR Government needs to set ambitious goals to accelerate the transformation of road transport to ultimately reach zero emissions.
Our key recommendations for an effective transition which should be considered are therefore:
Establish a policy vision, targets and measures for all commercial vehicles including public transport.
Formulate an EV Action Plan with stage-wise developments, close engagement of public and private stakeholders, appropriate subsidies, streamlined approval processes and better trial design.
Clarify the institutional roles of involved Government Bureaus and Departments.
Strengthen the membership of the Steering Committee on the Promotion of Electric Vehicles.