Phasing out Diesel Taxis
6.Since January this year, Government has tendered out five large sites for exclusive use as LPG refilling stations. The terms did not require any land premium. A formula to cap the price at which LPG would be sold was required. The successful bidders have set a price for LPG that will cut the operating costs for a taxi by about $45,000 each year. This, together with the cheaper price of LPG taxis, creates a strong incentive for most taxi operators to switch to LPG as early as possible.
7.Our objective is to provide sufficient LPG refueling capacity for all 18,000 taxis by the end of 2001.
Phasing out Diesel Light Buses
8.A preparatory committee comprising representatives from relevant government bureaux and departments, the light bus trade and academics with relevant expertise was set up last December to work out arrangements for the trial of alternative light buses.
9.The trial will be launched next month with 5 electric light buses and 11 liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) light buses. The 16 alternative-fuelled buses will be operated in 8 fleets under the management of experienced light bus operators to test their performance under real-life commercial light bus operations. This will allow representative operational data to be gathered. The trial will last for 6 months.
10.A monitoring committee is being set up to review the progress of the trial and vet the gathered data. Its members will be drawn from the preparatory committee plus fleet managers and representatives from the participating vehicle suppliers.
11.In order to allow the outcome of the trial to be acted on promptly, vehicle manufacturers will be kept informed of progress so that preparation for the provision of new vehicles can be made. Planning has also been undertaken to ensure that additional LPG refilling capacity to be provided to meet any demand from public light buses within 2002.
12.Trials of particulate traps for light diesel vehicles and of systems for cleaning the traps have been completed. At its meeting on 12 May 2000, the Finance Committee of the Legislative Council approved the Administration's request for funds to begin implementation of the scheme.
13.In collaboration with the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, a trial of diesel catalysts has been launched.It will enable a specification for catalysts suitable for local large diesel vehicles to be established. The trial started in February 2000. It will last for 12 months since the variety of large diesel engines, operating conditions and fuel qualities encountered is extensive.
14.A monitoring committee comprising representatives from relevant government departments, the transport trades and the Motor Traders Association is overseeing the trial.
15.Subject to the findings of the trial, we plan to assist owners of pre-Euro large diesel vehicles to retrofit them with suitable diesel catalysts in 2001.
Enforcement against Smoky Vehicles
16.The Secretary for Environment and Food has signed a resolution to increase the fixed penalty for smoky vehicle offences to $1,000. It is due to be debated at the Legislative Council meeting on 31 May 2000.
17.Since the introduction of the chassis dynamometer test for light diesel vehicles in September 1999, over 1,000 vehicles have had their licences recommended for cancellation after failing the test. It is intended to introduce chassis dynamometer tests for large diesel vehicles later this year.
18.From September 2000 the Transport Department will extend to all diesel vehicles attending their roadworthiness inspection a more thorough smoke test procedure.
Promoting Proper Maintenance and Eco-driving technique
19.Since August 1999, the Environmental Protection Department, in collaboration with the Vocational Training Council and the Hong Kong Productivity Council, has provided training sessions for 750 vehicle mechanics on proper engine repair to reduce smoke emissions. The Environmental Protection Department has also held eight discussion sessions and one workshop with the transport trade and vehicle mechanics to promote understanding of the dynamometer smoke test. A vehicle supplier has recently organised a seminar to help vehicle mechanics to maintain vehicles supplied by them.
20.In addition to its existing wide range of training programmes on vehicles, in March 2000 the Vocational Training Council started a new course on the diagnosis and repair of smoky diesel vehicles. This covers the advanced smoke test on a chassis dynamometer. The course can train up 2000 in-service mechanics a year.
21.In January 2000, a Working Group on Vehicle Maintenance Services was formed. It comprises representatives from the transport trade, government departments and professional bodies to consider ways to improve vehicle maintenance standards. Issues being studied include training of vehicle mechanics/technicians; making available technical data for vehicle maintenance; the feasibility of a licensing system for vehicle mechanics, etc. The Working Group is studying both long and short-term improvement measures. It will put forward recommendations for the Administration's consideration by early next year.
22.To promote good driving and maintenance habits to reduce smoke emissions, since the end of 1999 the Environmental Protection Department has organised four seminars on eco-driving.
23.The Environmental Protection Department is preparing to launch a 3-month campaign next month to strengthen vehicle owners' awareness of their vehicles' need of proper maintenance. This will include the provision of free tests on a chassis dynamometer.
Emission Requirements for Newly registered Vehicles and Auto Diesel
24.The European Union will start to introduce the Euro III emission standards to newly registered motor vehicles in January 2001. To support this, the maximum permitted sulphur content in auto diesel will be reduced from 0.05% to 0.035%. A Euro III standard vehicle with the lower sulphur diesel will emit about 38% less particulates and 20% less hydrocarbon and nitrogen oxides than the equivalent Euro II model.
25.In keeping with the policy of adopting the most stringent practicable emission standards for all new vehicles, the Administration will introduce the Euro III standard here in parallel with its adoption in the European Union.
26.The Administration has set up a Task Force to oversee the implementation of the additional air pollution control initiatives and the 1999 Policy Address measures. It is chaired by the Secretary for Environment and Food. Other members are representatives of the Secretary for Transport, Secretary for the Treasury, Secretary for Planning and Lands and Secretary for Economic Services, the Director of Environmental Protection and the Commissioner for Transport. Other members from the Hong Kong Police, Customs and Excise Department and other bureaus and departments will attend as required. The Task Force will also study other proposals for improvement of air quality.
27.Members are invited to note and give their views on the new initiatives and the progress of the existing measures.
Environment and Food Bureau