By Geryl Ogilvy
KUCHING, Feb 26: Sarawak has taken a step forward in its effort to reduce carbon emission with the introduction of its first electric city bus service.
Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah launched the e-bus at the Old Court House building here today.
The CRRC Electric City Bus service, to be managed by HENZ Pacific Sdn Bhd, will start operation this Friday (March 1) and make stops at 20 locations around the city centre in a loop dubbed Route 101 from its main station at the Open Air Market.
The service, from 7am till 6pm daily, is expected to complete each loop within an hour.
Abdul Karim applauded the initiative, which could help promote tourism at the Kuching city centre. For a start, the service will be conducted on a three-month trial run and free-of-charge for passengers.
“We know there are a lot of benefits when using non-fossil fuel vehicles, including those for public transport. Apart from reducing traffic congestion, the use of public transport is also encouraged because it enables us to reduce our carbon footprints and air pollution.
“In many developed countries, the use of non-fossil fuel vehicles are encouraged by the government, and it is beneficial to the people because they have good alternatives in getting around with great savings as well as convenience.
“The introduction of the electric bus service by CRRC (e-bus manufacturing firm from China) is very much welcomed because it can provide a good transportation alternative for our visitors and local folks too,” he said at the flagging-off ceremony.
Sarawak Energy and Digi are also involved in the initiative, providing power and free wi-fi service, respectively.
Abdul Karim added that the three-month trial run would be used by the companies involved to fine-tune their services and carrying out a feasibility study.
“After three months, if the response is good, we will continue the service. We will look at our agreement with the company to extend it for a year or up to three years.
“If public support is massive, we might even consider increasing the number of buses and expand route coverage. This kind of metro bus will improve transportation service in the city,” he said.
HENZ Pacific managing director Henry Lai said the e-bus would be equipped with a GPS navigation system to track its movement.
The CRRC Electric City Bus Service will have its own mobile app, Kuching Metro, where commuters will have real-time monitoring of the bus trips, know the exact timing of arrival and journey along the routes, he added.
“The bus is also equipped with handicap accessibility and CCTV for added security,” he continued.
From the Open Air Market, the route will cover Satok area to the suspension bridge before returning to the city via Jalan Kulas. The bus will pass Kuching heritage trail landmarks such as the Sarawak Museum and General Post Office, before heading to Main Bazaar, Jalan Ban Hock and Jalan Central Timur towards Kuching South City Council (MBKS) Recreational Park.
The route will pass Jalan Pending on its way back to the city centre, Jalan Ang Cheng Ho, Padungan and Jalan Abell towards Kuching Waterfront and Darul Hana Bridge.
Assistant Minister for Youth and Sports Datuk Snowdan Lawan and Assistant Minister for Transportation Datuk Dr Jerip Susil were among those present at the flagging-off ceremony. — DayakDaily