Provisional Legislative Council
Panel on Environmental Affairs
Pilot Scheme for Liquefied Petroleum Gas Taxis
To deal with the high background level of respirable suspended particulates (RSP), the Administration put up a proposal in September 1995 to phase out light duty diesel vehicles by requiring them to switch to low emission unleaded petrol vehicles. The proposal met with strong opposition from the transport trades and the legislature. To consider alternatives, the Administration set up an interdepartmental working group in September 1996 to look into the feasibility of using gas vehicles to replace diesel vehicles. The working group concluded that LPG vehicles were much cleaner than diesel vehicles in terms of air pollution as well as were safe and technically feasible in Hong Kong.
2.In February 1997, we briefed the then Environmental Affairs Panel of the findings of the working group and proceeded to prepare for a trial of LPG taxis as a pilot scheme. The main purpose of the pilot scheme is to collect information on costs and maintenance of LPG taxis as well as to gain local operational experience to address the concerns by the trades.
3.Taxis are selected for trial in the pilot scheme because taxis account for about 30% of the traffic-related RSP emissions in our urban areas. Switching taxis to LPG will yield significant improvement in air quality. Moreover LPG taxis have been used successfully in Japan as well as in many places for over 30 years. The supply of LPG taxis suitable for use in Hong Kong can be made readily available.
The Pilot Scheme
4.The pilot scheme of LPG taxis being planned will last for up to a year. Once there is sufficient evidence that LPG taxis are viable in Hong Kong in all respects, a proposal to introduce LPG taxis widely will be prepared. The information collected and experience gained from the pilot scheme will enable us to devise a motor fuel strategy based on LPG vehicle technology to improve air quality.
5.We aim to start the pilot scheme in November 1997. Initially 30 LPG vehicles comprising new and used vehicles will operate as urban taxis. They will be operated exactly in the same manner as ordinary commercial urban taxis. Used LPG taxis included in the pilot scheme will help evaluate their maintenance and repair requirements.
6.The Working Group on LPG Vehicles will set up a committee to steer and monitor the pilot scheme as well as to consider the results and findings. Apart from Government departments, representatives from taxi trades, vehicle suppliers as well as relevant academics will also be invited to join this committee to ensure that the findings will be considered in a comprehensive manner.
7.To ensure that these LPG taxis will be operated in the same mode as normal commercial taxis, we will invite experienced taxi operators to act as fleet managers for the trial taxis. These fleet managers will collect and keep the relevant data required and report regularly to the working committee.
8.To ensure the highest safety and performance standards, the LPG vehicles will be maintained and serviced only under the supervision of persons trained by the original vehicle manufacturers. The workshops for maintaining these vehicles will also comply with the requirements of the Gas Standards Office of the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department as well as the Fire Services Department.
9.At a start, 4 temporary LPG filling stations will be built to support the scheme. They are located in Chai Wan, Kowloon Bay, Tsing Yi and Shatin Height. The Gas Standards Office of the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department will also ensure that the design and operation of these stations will comply with the highest safety standards.
10.The Administration will update members progress of the LPG taxi trial regularly.
Environmental Protection Department