Free-to-ride hydrogen-fuel bus service starts in Kuching tomorrow

Abang Johari (left) gives a thumbs-up as he disembarks from a hydrogen-fuel bus in Kuching today (Jan 21, 2020) followed by Lee and Abdul Karim after a tour of the city.

By Peter Sibon

KUCHING, Jan 21: Starting tomorrow, locals and tourists will be able to travel on three free-to-ride hydrogen-fuel buses which will ply Kuching city as a result of the Sarawak government’s efforts to have green technology public transport, revealed Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.

The official introduction of these three buses here today marked a historical milestone for Sarawak public transport, as the first to have hydrogen-fueled buses in South East Asia, he said.

“The purpose for this event is to introduce the free hydrogen bus service for the city of Kuching, supported with the H2 Sarawak app within Kuching city. We are the first in Malaysia to deploy a city-wide implementation of beacons at these places of interest inside the buses and this allows for full notification of our promotion (of products) along the historical landmarks.

“This initiative is a joint effort undertaken by the Ministry of Transport, Sarawak, the newly created ministry and the Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) to promote a reliable, affordable, safe and eco-friendly public transportation system in Sarawak,” Abang Johari told a news conference after launching the Kuching City Hydrogen Bus Service at a leading hotel here today.

He also took a tour of the city on one of the buses, accompanied by Minister of Transport Datuk Lee Kim Shin and Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah.

Abang Johari said the features of the free bus service would include historical and places of interests along its routes.

“Along the routes there will be hop-on and hop-off from the buses. The features will also include commercial applications inside the buses such as advertising of local products. In another word, our retailers can advertise in the buses,” he said, adding that tourists could stop to savour local kolok mee along the routes.

The Chief Minister also stressed that the three buses will be equipped with WiFi and will be the first in Sarawak to use Google Transit which gives users real time schedules of bus arrivals and connecting points. This will pave way for fully integrated routes and a live schedule for the public transport system.

Abang Johari (right) taking a ride on the hydrogen-fuel bus in Kuching today (Jan 21, 2020). At his right is Lee.
The three hydrogen-powered buses ready to ply Kuching city starting tomorrow providing free transport for both tourists and locals.

“This is a trial service which provides information. Each bus can travel over 300km and achieve 15 round trips in a single refuel. Meaning, in a single tank, it can go 15 rounds.”

The three buses will ply two routes, namely: the Kuching Downtown Heritage Loop (about 14km) and the Damai Loop (about 67km).

The Downtown Heritage Loop will cover Kuching Waterfront, Central Timur, Ban Hock Road, Kubah Ria, Malay Heritage Kampung, Bandarshah, then back to Kuching Waterfront/Riverside Majestic.

The other route starts from Riverside Majestic Hotel and covers Sarawak Museum, Satok Bus stop 1, Satok Bus stop 2, Petrajaya Bus stop 1 and Petrajaya Bus stop 2, Damai Central Bus stop 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7, then back to Riverside Majestic Hotel.

The Chief Minister revealed that the H2 Sarawak app was developed by a Sarawakian, who has worked in the United States and China.

Meanwhile, he said the initiate was a pilot project to promote tourism and public transport.

“Datuk Lee Kim Shin will be monitoring, whereby we may to have additional hydrogen buses in our effort to improve our public transportation system,” he said.

He noted that hydrogen-fuel technology is new for public transport, whereby only a few countries in the world, namely China, South Korea, Japan and Scotland, are deploying it. — DayakDaily