The introduction of cleaner vehicles to Hong Kong suffered another setback with the launch of electric buses yesterday afternoon delayed indefinitely after the mainland maker failed to correct a fault with stop buttons.
Citybus and New World First Bus were together to launch a second batch of five buses, but the delay was announced at the last minute because of the bell problem.
On a standard bus, a bell rings once when a passenger presses for it to stop. It will not ring again even if another person presses the button for the same stop. But it was found on the new buses that the bell rings with every press.
The second batch of buses, manufactured in Shandong by Great Dragon International Corp, were set to run on the same five Hong Kong Island routes -11, 12, 25A, 78 and 81 - as the first batch.
Although the fault did not affect safety, the jointly-owned operators said they would await "rectification" by the manufacturer.
The problem was in fact found last month and Great Dragon notified to take action. But it was discovered in checks yesterday morning that the problem remained.
Great Dragon assistant marketing manager Henry Yau Ying-hang said work on the bell was continuing.
And Wan Chai district councillor Clarisse Yeung Suet-ying said there were complaints about the first five electric buses, with more out-of-service service time than regular vehicles, stuffy interiors and poor performance on hills.
Those buses, made by Shenzhen- based BYD, began running in December. But they had to undergo work twice in January for problems with doors and wheels.
The two bus operators received a subsidy of HK$50 million for the 10 buses and charging facilities.
An electric bus developed by the Hong Kong Productivity Council and Green Dynamic Electric Vehicle with a grant of HK$40 million went on fire due to a short circuit in December.