Kowloon Motor Bus recently developed Hong Kong's first double-decker bus that is equipped with a solar-powered system keep the vehicle cool and allow the passengers to charge their phones on the go. The bus with the solar system passed a trial conducted at a depot in Sha Tin in the New Territories and will supposedly operate on Tuen Mun route. During trials, the system reduced the saloon air temperature by around 5 to 10 degree Celsius thus improving bus services and contributing to environmental protection. This invention is patent pending.
Engineers at KMB spent over four months to develop this system which later passed inspection by Transport Department. The company is now awaiting patent approval.
The bus completely resembles the rest of the fleet except the 20 solar panels on the roof, each one of them measuring one meter by 0.6m. Besides, an air ventilation system, a reserve battery and temperature are also installed in the bus.
The solar energy is transformed into electricity, thus allowing air ventilation system to work. It also relays electricity to the battery that further allows 20 phones to fully charge while the engine is turned on.
Usually, air conditioner gets switched off as the engine is turned off leaving the bus interior hot. But with solar power panels, buses will still remain cool while parked in the open area. "With the engine off, the solar power will be transferred to the ventilation system to lower the interior temperature," KMB executive Lo Chun-yi said.
Lo said the new system will reduce the temperature by five to ten degrees Celsius. It would also cool down the interior faster and economise fuel. He claimed it takes three to four hours to fully charge the battery no matter what weather and the power would last the whole day.
Lo said the new system with the solar panel on the roof would not affect the engine or its air-conditioning. "The new system is isolated from our current electric system so if the solar panels fail, we'll still be able to switch on the air- con and passengers will not be affected."
KMB, that services 2.8 million rides a day, is the first bus company in Hong Kong to use solar power panels as an additional power source.
“KMB is the first company in Hong Kong to incorporate solar technology on a double-decker. We hope this innovation will improve our service quality, represent an efficient use of recycled energy and demonstrate our care for the environment”, Lo added.
As of now, only one bus has the new system. More buses will be installed with solar panels soon.
KMB is hopeful that the system will be able to power the wi-fi system on the bus in future.
The company did not disclose the cost of the system and the bus or how much energy or fuel it would be able to save. At the same time, he clarified the cost of such a system was not very high and passengers would not have to shell out any additional fees.
Air conditioning starts immediately as the engine starts and brings down temperatures to a comfy level. It lessens emissions and energy wastage.
KMB currently has a 4,000-strong fleet, and the company hopes to steadily add panels to other double-decker buses. Lo also affirmed that the system worked efficiently even in hazy conditions.
Only a few KMB buses currently have the USB feature, but the company hopes to complete installation in at least half of its fleet by the end of the year, suggested the spokesperson.
In 2007, Australia developed World’s first ever hundred per cent solar-powered bus was developed by Australia in 2001. It drew energy from Adelaide’s central bus station.
· 20 of 1M x 0.6M solar panels;
· Reserve battery;
· Temperature sensor;
· Air ventilation system
· When the engine is turned off, the system serves as an auxiliary electric power supply and drives the ventilation system;
· When the engine is turned on, the system supplies electricity to the USB chargers and reserve battery.
· Reduce the “Greenhouse Effect” inside the bus, reducing temperature and enhancing ventilation;
· Reduce energy waste;
· Create a more comfortable environment for bus captains and passengers.
Ending the summer woes of bus drivers, KMB comes up with rest kiosk at terminal in East Kowloon
A long-awaited rest kiosk at a bus terminal in East Kowloon is finally complete for drivers as they were forced to sit in a bus with its engine turned on even at break times to get away from Hong Kong’s burning summer heat.
The facility at Lok Wah, Ngau Tau Kok, was given the green signal by the authorities following a four long-drawn-out four year application process amid red tape and early disapproval from the management advisory committee of an adjoining public housing estate.
The air-conditioned kiosk is equipped with a fridge, water dispenser, microwave and tables and chairs.
The Bus operator KMB first requested to build the facility in 2013. A spokesperson for the government’s Lands Department said the inspection process for the kiosk as needed by land lease terms had been done, yet KMB has to complete some procedures with the Housing Department.
Yuen Fung-yee, a bus driver based at Lok Wah for two years, who used the kiosk for the first time said, “The facility is not bad. It is a bit small but I’m really excited we can have a better rest break now”.
The kiosk can take in about four people at a time.
With no proper rest shelter, Yuen used to have her lunch outside the station supervisor’s kiosk under a foot overbridge, with storage box as her dining table. Earlier KMB was forced to arrange a bus with an idling engine so as to provide a bit of relief to drivers in the scorching summer heat.
Building the rest kiosk meant an addition to the gross floor area which was officially allocated to Lok Wah public housing estate. The process required approval from the Link Reit, the Housing Department, responsible for running the estate’s retail space, and the Lands Department.
The body representing residents and managers of the Estate also disapproved some locations that KMB had been eyeing for the facility.
Lawmaker Lau Kwok-fan said KMB manages about 217 bus terminals, out of which 169 are equipped with rest facilities. Out of the rest 48 unequipped terminals, 39 had received the green signal from the Transport Department for kiosks, and now public consultations are being carried out.
KMB first to introduce electric bus in 2013
In the year 2013, Kowloon Motor Bus introduced the first electric bus on the roads of Hong Kong. These were manufactured by Chinese automaker BYD. It was a single deck bus measuring 12 meters in length that could accommodate 66 passengers at a time while running at a maximum speed of 70 kilometres per hour. The electric buses are powered by lithium iron phosphate batteries which take approximately three hours to be completely charged through a cable in the charging station of the bus depots plugged to the bus socket. With a full battery, the bus can travel more than 180 kilometres.
Keeping the safety in mind, the bus is equipped with enhanced features. The battery-monitoring system allows bus captains to keep a check on the voltage, temperature and current of each battery and turn the electricity supply off if needed. Furthermore, the electricity supply gets automatically turned off if any defect is detected.
KMB took possession of this first electric bus in the year 2012. It tested it for seven months with no passengers on. It was then used for shuttling staff, with over 20 thousand trips being logged. The success brought it on the roads of Hong Kong in 2013 for public use.
With the motive to green mass transit, Hong Kong officials have allocated $180 million to finance the franchised bus companies, including KMB, to buy 36 electric buses for trial on different bus routes. Besides, they will also subsidize the operational cost of retrofitting some 1,400 regular buses with selective catalytic reduction devices that cut down on air pollution.
The Kowloon Motor Bus Co (1933) Ltd is the largest privately owned, public bus company in the world. KMB has the largest environment-friendly fleet in Hong Kong. During the year 2016, KMB made substantial investments in new buses with the latest safety, environmental and design features. A total of 483 new super-low floor air-conditioned Euro V double-deck buses were added to the fleet. Since August 2014, when KMB introduced four 12.8-metre double-deck buses to run on Route 73X, an additional 150 12.8-metre buses have been ordered, with the first batch commencing service in November 2015. The 12.8-metre buses exhibit the same fuel efficiency and reliability that have been achieved by the 12-metre version. The whole fleet of 154 12.8-metre buses has been put into service to provide increased passenger capacity on routes with very high demand.