Monday, 14 December 2015

Taxpayer Dollars go up in Flames -- Literally

A prototype electric bus that had a short circuit and burst into flames yesterday
Hong Kong is finally getting on the electric bus bandwagon, but it had a slight setback when a prototype that was designed in the city but built across the border burst into flames yesterday.

The fire department believes it had a short circuit which overheated the battery.

The Hong Kong Productivity Council designed the bus and reported it had passed several tests on the mainland before it was delivered to Hong Kong.

Are we sure the bus was properly tested in China? One wonders what kind of "vigorous testing" it went through...

The HK$40 million project began in August 2013, funded by the government's Innovation and Technology Fund. The electric bus was built at HK$3.8 million -- twice the price of a diesel bus.

While it was designed in Hong Kong, the electric bus was manufactured in China because of the lack of manpower and space to build one in the city.

Ironically the council's chairman, Stanley Lau Chin-ho, vouched for the bus's safety back in October for a promotional event.

"Although the coach was assembled on the mainland, it underwent nine months of tests in Chongqing and Dongguan to ensure its safety. I am sure there would not be any problems," he said.

Uh huh.

The single-decker bus was supposed to be able to cover 380km on a four-hour charge and travel up to 70km/h with 75 passengers.

Did Hong Kong really have to design its own bus? Could it not have bought one from other companies who already have the expertise in doing this? Why try to reinvent the wheel?

And another thing: last year Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said in his policy address that the government would promote the use of electric vehicles and would fund the purchase of 36 single-deck electric buses by franchised bus companies.

Wait -- why would the government pay for 36 electric buses to be on the road? Why not mandate them to have X number of electric buses by a certain year, and Y number in subsequent years?

Why do taxpayers have to shell out for bus companies where we pay bus fare already?

It's completely illogical.

And now a prototype has burst into flames and is now a charred skeleton.

Oops there goes HK$3.8 million...

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