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Old May 20th, 2010, 08:32 PM   #941
hkskyline
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Broad economic benefits to HK in running trolley buses
18 May 2010
SCMP

Spare a thought for Hong Kong's bus operators. According to a front page article in yesterday's South China Morning Post, the poor dears are facing hard times. The times are so tough, they claim, that they cannot afford to replace the antiquated diesel buses which belch out 40 per cent of the toxic fumes that make our streets such an unpleasant - and unhealthy - place to be.

Switching 23 routes from diesel to electric trolley buses, which produce no street-level pollution, would need an upfront capital investment of some HK$2.5 billion, the article explained.

With bus fares fixed, company profits are vulnerable to higher fuel prices. KMB, the city's biggest operator, recorded a HK$163 million loss in the first half of 2008 when oil prices spiked up to US$149 a barrel. As a result, the bus operators say there is no way they can afford the costs of going green without government subsidies and a hefty increase in fares.

The government is unenthusiastic. Switching to trolley buses running off overhead wires would be difficult because of all overhead advertising in Hong Kong's streets. And the wires might not look nice. And the trolley buses wouldn't be able to run through the harbour tunnels. And in any case, introducing trolley buses would only result in a "small" reduction in pollution, according to officials, so the whole idea is a non-starter.

This argument is wrong-headed in so many ways it is hard to know where to begin.

Let's start with bus company profits. If KMB, which incidentally is controlled by the highly profitable and cash-rich Sun Hung Kai Properties, took a loss in the first half of 2008, it has only itself to blame.

Conventional wisdom would dictate that a bus company unable to raise its fares would do well to hedge against a rise in fuel costs. KMB's managers failed to hedge adequately, either because they baulked at the cost, or because they thought fuel prices would not rise.

Either way, they made a poor business decision. It is hardly valid for them now to use that lack of judgment as an excuse not to invest in cleaner, less polluting buses.

Now let's examine the government's coolness towards trolley buses. First, the argument that trolley buses only reduce pollution by a "small" amount is so misleading it is hard not to conclude that officials are trying deliberately to pull the wool over the public's eyes.

By drawing their power from overhead electric cables rather than on-board diesel engines, trolley buses shift the pollution they emit from street level, where it is does most harm to human health, to the power station where the electricity is generated.

That power station still produces emissions, especially if it is coal-fired. But the shift involves economies of scale and efficiency gains which mean overall emissions are reduced considerably. And, of course, the remaining emissions aren't belching directly in your face as you wait to cross the road, which means the health benefits, and the resulting economic benefits, are anything but "small".

Next, we have the supposed obstacles of overhead advertising, unsightly wires, and Hong Kong's tunnels.

These complaints simply don't stand up. Ask Hong Kong's population which it would rather have, a clean and efficient modern transport system with breathable air at street level, or a thicket of overhead signs, and you wouldn't get many votes for more neon. As for ugly wires, no one complains about the cables of our existing tram system, so it's hard to see they should take exception to trolley bus wires.

And the objection that trolley buses couldn't operate in the cross-harbour tunnels because there is insufficient headroom for their power cables is complete and utter nonsense.

Modern trolley buses are not like old-fashioned trams. Not only do they boast pneumatic tyres and proper suspensions, which makes for a much more comfortable ride, they also have batteries, which allow them to operate independently from overhead cables for several kilometres at a time.

In Rome, for example, trolley buses charge their batteries from the overhead cables as they trundle through the suburbs. Then, when they reach the historic city centre where there are no wires, they fold down their pantographs and proceed under the power of their own batteries until they pick up the cables again on the other side.

There is no reason why Hong Kong couldn't adopt a similar system to allow non-polluting trolley buses to pass through the city's tunnels and to operate along portions of their routes where it is not worth installing overhead cables.

Yes, the capital costs of building the system would be steep, and the operating costs may well be higher than for the present fleet of ancient diesel buses. But the economic benefits to Hong Kong, both in terms of more welcoming streets and reduced medical problems, would be considerable.

Granted, it would not be altogether reasonable to expect the bus companies to bear the full costs of investing in new trolley buses when the benefits would accrue to society at large.

But if ever there was a good case for government subsidies it is surely this. After all, the government subsidises the MTR by handing the railway company valuable parcels of free land to develop, so why shouldn't it subsidise the bus companies too.

And the costs would hardly be excessive. To a government prepared to splash out more than HK$8 billion to build a cruise terminal unlikely to benefit anyone much except a few foreign-owned shipping lines, HK$2.5 billion for a safe, clean and efficient public transport system that benefits the whole population should look like the bargain of the century.
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Old May 20th, 2010, 10:49 PM   #942
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hkskyline View Post
Broad economic benefits to HK in running trolley buses
18 May 2010
SCMP

The government is unenthusiastic. Switching to trolley buses running off overhead wires would be difficult because of all overhead advertising in Hong Kong's streets. And the wires might not look nice. And the trolley buses wouldn't be able to run through the harbour tunnels. And in any case, introducing trolley buses would only result in a "small" reduction in pollution, according to officials, so the whole idea is a non-starter.

Modern trolley buses are not like old-fashioned trams. Not only do they boast pneumatic tyres and proper suspensions, which makes for a much more comfortable ride, they also have batteries, which allow them to operate independently from overhead cables for several kilometres at a time.

And the costs would hardly be excessive. To a government prepared to splash out more than HK$8 billion to build a cruise terminal unlikely to benefit anyone much except a few foreign-owned shipping lines, HK$2.5 billion for a safe, clean and efficient public transport system that benefits the whole population should look like the bargain of the century.
Tell them to take a look at this new technology: although it would require substantial below-grade construction, it involves 0 above ground catenaries.

http://www.thetransportpolitic.com/2...-the-catenary/

And on an unrelated note: why was the cultural center replaced by the cruise terminal?
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Old May 21st, 2010, 06:31 AM   #943
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Quote:
Originally Posted by herenthere View Post
Tell them to take a look at this new technology: although it would require substantial below-grade construction, it involves 0 above ground catenaries.
That's for a tram: not a trolley bus. Having been here a few weeks now, I know for a fact that trolleys won't work well in Hong Kong. Dewiring occurs a lot with trolley buses, and I'm quite sure it will happen a lot in Hong Kong, especially with the way people drive here. There's just too many bus routes around, trolley buses will not work because of the inflexibility of the system.
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Old May 21st, 2010, 08:03 AM   #944
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Probably better to go for an electric bus that charges at stops rather than put up wires everywhere.
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Old May 21st, 2010, 12:31 PM   #945
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hkskyline View Post
Probably better to go for an electric bus that charges at stops rather than put up wires everywhere.
Time will tell if this will work or not after KMB start testing the one they recently ordered.

KMB have already had experience with the electric Designline buses which have finally been sold after very little use the past few years.

Trollybuses could easily be made to work, overtaking of other buses is not that much of an issue as has already been demonstrated by Citybus when they had their experimental trolleybus operating at Ocean Park.

Bad driving affects all road users not just trolleybuses.

The issue of trolleybuses becoming de-wired all the time cannot be said of all systems as it depends on a variety of factors. Cheap old systems will not perform as well as properly engineered solutions. You don't see the European systems being abandoned because they become de-wired all the time. When Citybus was proposing double deck trolleybuses, it was a proper well engineered solution.

In Hong Kong there is not political will power to back this kind of project, the private sector can only do so much as it requires Government involvement as well. To help prove the trolleybus concept, the original Citybus plan was to convert route 98 in the Southern District to trolleybus. This is a short route, doesn't involve busy traffic corridors and would also disprove another myth that trolleybuses can't go up hills very well. Sadly this did not come to pass. So much for this being a "can do" city.

As another indication of the lack of vision on these matters, you only have to look at Hong Kong's most environmentally friendly form of transport (in emissions terms that is) and see how much development has been done there. As far as the HK Tramway customer is concerned, the only change over the past 30+ years is some timetable tweaking!

In the meantime KMB is congratulated for retiring a load of old buses (which had to go any way), and replacing them with new Enviro 5 vehicles (because you can only buy Euro 5). In other words, this was going to happen anyway..

Ok, I feel better now.

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Old May 21st, 2010, 06:21 PM   #946
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I have to say the Citybus electric trolley demonstration was quite interesting especially since it was a double-decker trolley, which isn't very common in the world.

I'm not sure how much the infrastructure to wire in Hong Kong is, but in Vancouver, it was quoted to be quite expensive, at $1 Mill CAD/km or ~$7.5 Mill HKD/km. If there are many bus routes using the wiring infrastructure or there are many passengers, then it becomes cost effective. But if there is a lighter-used bus route, then the cost per passenger is much more expensive.

Overtaking of other diesel buses is fine, but overtaking trolley buses are impossible unless there are bypass wires or different routes share a different, but parallel set of wires.

Also to note, sudden speed changes and bus speeds that exceed 60 km/hr increase the risk of de-wiring. This is an issue that occurs in Vancouver, especially on turns and on-ramps. My experience in Hong Kong leads me to believe that this can be potential problem. Of course, this can be changed with better training and better driving habits, but I don't know, it just doesn't seem to fit into the "driving culture of Hong Kong."

There are definitely many benefits to trolleybuses, like almost zero emissions, quieter and comfortable ride, faster acceleration, and better efficiency on hills, and there are a few downsides, like de-wiring. I personally don't consider "aesthetics" (i.e. look of the wires) as a downside; I rather see the wires than hear and feel the loud engine noise of a bus. Growing up in Vancouver, I'm quite used to trolleybuses. But like I said, I'm not so sure it fits and works in Hong Kong but I could be wrong.
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Old May 22nd, 2010, 03:04 AM   #947
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Another reason for single axile double decker:

The slightly smaller capacity is actually more beneficial. It will reduce dwell time for passenger loading and unloading at bus-stops.

The larger capacity triple-axil busses may actually be counter productive, with relatively longer dwell time at bus-stops, making the journey experience for passenges more unsatisfactory.
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Old May 22nd, 2010, 03:44 AM   #948
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How about ultr-capacitor bus. Charging during halts at bus-stops.

This is being tested in Shanghai.

Pending technology maturation, can the ultra capacitors be augmented with batteries?

Communter busses are perfect candidates for regenerative braking.
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Old May 22nd, 2010, 07:22 AM   #949
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Quote:
Originally Posted by homunwai View Post
Another reason for single axile double decker:

The slightly smaller capacity is actually more beneficial. It will reduce dwell time for passenger loading and unloading at bus-stops.

The larger capacity triple-axil busses may actually be counter productive, with relatively longer dwell time at bus-stops, making the journey experience for passenges more unsatisfactory.
The big bottleneck isn't so much loading and unloading. It's the waiting time for a bus to get to its top, when a stop is shared by multiple routes. Boarding and exiting take place through separate doors, and the doors are large enough to support quick flow.
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Old May 29th, 2010, 05:54 PM   #950
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Old May 31st, 2010, 06:33 PM   #951
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Plan to cut buses spurs call for reduced fares
29 May 2010
South China Morning Post

Legislators have called for reduced fares and free feeder bus services to compensate passengers affected by changes to bus routes under a proposal to curb roadside pollution.

The government proposal has met with vehement opposition from district councillors, who say plans to cancel bus routes and cut bus services during non-peak hours would inconvenience residents and lead to a near-monopoly by the MTR Corporation in some districts.

District councillors rejected 59 of 105 bus route rationalisation plans proposed by the Transport Department in the three years to September last year.

Democratic Party lawmaker Andrew Cheng Kar-foo said the legislature should not steamroller the proposals through given strong opposition from the district councils.

"Legco should be very careful. We are not familiar with the district routes. If you cut bus runs during non-rush hours, elderly people might have to walk half an hour [to take another bus]," he said.

Unionist lawmaker Li Fung-ying said the move might also leave bus drivers out of work. "We cannot use air quality as the only yardstick when laying down policies. The labour market is bad now," Li said. "There will also be huge inconvenience for those living in remote areas if you cut bus runs on some routes."

Services on Central-bound route 692, operated by KMB and New World First Bus, which serves Hang Hau residents, will be cancelled during non-peak hours. Liberal Party chairwoman Miriam Lau Kin-yee said residents would be forced to use the MTR. "It's unfair to them as bus 690 [operated by KMB] running between Central and Hong Sing Garden [in Tseung Kwan O] and bus 694 [operated by First Bus] transporting Tiu Keng Leng residents [to Siu Sai Wan] are not affected," Lau said.

Cheng said concessions such as reduced fares and special monthly passes would be needed to compensate passengers for the inconvenience of changing the bus routes.

The Environment Bureau said it would consider other means to curb pollution, such as installing special devices to cut nitrogen oxide emissions. Undersecretary for Transport and Housing Yau Shing-mu said incentives would be considered.
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Old May 31st, 2010, 07:00 PM   #952
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I find it interesting that in Hong Kong, the gov't feels the need to reduce buses on the road when there are many other important measures they should be taking to reduce pollution.
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Old June 3rd, 2010, 06:54 PM   #953
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Old June 8th, 2010, 05:10 PM   #954
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Old June 21st, 2010, 06:40 PM   #955
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Old buses vanish in cloud of smoke
19 June 2010
South China Morning Post

If you don't see the difference, you may smell it.

In three months, there will be no single-decker buses on Hong Kong's roads that pre-date the European Union's emission standards.

Their retirement precedes that of their double-decker counterparts, which will be gone by the first quarter of next year.

The last pre-Euro single-decker still operating is Kowloon Motor Bus' Dennis Lance model.

"It served both the old Kai Tak airport and Chek Lap Kok airport," said veteran KMB driver Chan Wai-hung, who has been driving the model since it was introduced in 1993. "I am happy it will soon rest in peace."

All 400 existing pre-Euro buses have been fitted with filters to ensure that suspended particles in their emissions meet Euro I, the original and lowest standard. But they emit 18 times more of pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide than Euro V buses.

KMB principal engineer Kane Shum Yuet-hung expects its Euro I buses to be phased out by 2014.

The company said 300 new Euro IV and V buses would be brought in this year to replace older ones.

Single-decker buses comprise about 4 per cent of KMB's 3,900-strong fleet and are seen mainly on little-used routes or where a height limit exists.
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Old June 26th, 2010, 06:24 AM   #956
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Old June 30th, 2010, 06:48 PM   #957
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Bus union demands equal treatment
23 June 2010
South China Morning Post

The government has proposed giving bus drivers more rest time and improving amenities at terminuses, but a union says it is not enough.

The Transport Department says drivers will get at least 20 minutes of rest in a six-hour duty. Meal time will be extended for all drivers to 45 minutes next year, and to an hour in 2012. This will give bus companies time to recruit new drivers and reschedule duties.

But Kwok Wai-kwong, chairman of the Kowloon Motor Bus Staff Union, said the proposal was new wine in an old bottle because CityBus and New World First Bus had been providing more than 20 minutes of rest time for years.

He demanded an hour's meal time, 30 minutes' continuous rest, and a five-minute break between journeys in a six-hour duty for KMB's 8,000 drivers. This would be on a par with the other two companies.

Kwok said it was crucial that drivers were given enough rest to ensure safety. He said the union had been demanding the same arrangements for 21 years and was disappointed by the department's response.

The Legislative Council's transport panel will discuss the issue on Monday.
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Old July 9th, 2010, 04:55 PM   #958
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Bus chaos looms in strike threat
6 July 2010
The Standard

Three bus drivers' unions yesterday warned of strike action if their companies do not agree to demands for pay rises and a review of employment terms.

However, the KMB, Citybus and New World First Bus staff unions did not say if they would go ahead with the action individually should only one or two of the companies agree to raise pay.

All three unions are affiliates of the Confederation of Trade Unions.

The unions said they are waiting for the result of a new round of talks to be held on Friday.

Should their demands be rejected, they will ask members to vote next week on whether or not to strike.

The unions say that the managers of the three bus firms are exploiting contract workers in particular.

In KMB's case, contract workers do not get double pay when working on public holidays nor do they get the allowances paid to permanent staff.

``The company says it did not change the terms of employment because it respects the spirit of the contract,'' a KMB Staff Union spokesman said.

Unions representing KMB and Citybus drivers are demanding pay rises of 4 percent, while New World First Bus's union is going for 3.5 percent.

A spokesman for the New World First Bus union said: ``The company has not been sincere in talks. We have discussed the issue many times and have lowered our pay rise demands from 6 percent to 3.5 percent but it is only offering 1.1 percent.''

The Citybus union said money is not the only issue on the table.

Its spokesman said employees were previously allowed up to 24 free visits to a doctor each year. In 1999 this was cut to 10 and, more recently, to just five.

New World First Bus contract workers get only five free visits a year, compared with 20 for permanent staff.

Other benefits the unions want include the issue of more staff family cards to contract workers.

The KMB Staff Union said a strike vote will be taken if the company does not improve the terms of employment for workers even if it accedes to the demand for a pay rise.

About 1,400 of New World First Bus's 2,200 staff are employed on contract.

Citybus has 800 contract employees from a workforce of 2,000, while KMB has 2,000 out of 13,000 employees.

In 2009, KMB earned HK$430.7 million, up HK$327 million from HK$103.7 million in 2008.

NWS Holdings, which owns Citybus and New World First Bus, earned HK$285.7 million from its contracting and transport business, a 25 percent decrease from 2008.
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Old July 11th, 2010, 05:42 PM   #959
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Old July 13th, 2010, 06:01 AM   #960
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Cute seat pattern! Always liked the Wright bus interiors, but never been in one!
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