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'Green' Buses Debut in Shanghai
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Ten new environmentally friendly buses were unveiled yesterday by Shanghai municipal government.

The buses are powered by 360 ultra-capacitors and are charged at bus stops with equipment attached to the roof of each vehicle along the No. 11 line, which has 10 stops around Laoximen in Huangpu District.

Each charge takes only 30 seconds and can power the bus for 3 to 8 kilometers.

Experts said the buses don't have any emissions since they are powered by electricity and that there is no need for unsightly wires overhead like other electric trolleys.

This represents the city's first step to upgrade buses that either cause air pollution or damage the image of Shanghai.

"The new trolley bus is a win-win solution for new transport," said Ma Xingfa, an official of the Shanghai Science and Technology Commission.

Working with a municipal fund of 15 million yuan (US$1.87 million) in the last five years, the science commission has teamed with a total of eight high-tech and transport companies to develop new buses.

They were produced by Shanghai Sunwin Bus Corporation - a joint venture between Shanghai Automotive Industry Group and Volvo Investment Corporation.

Each bus costs about 800,000 yuan, according to the officials.

The 10 buses are operated by Shanghai Bashi Xinxin Automobile Service Company. The fare is 2 yuan - the same as air-conditioned buses.

Chen Youkou, a senior engineer of the project, said: "The city government plans to gradually upgrade other buses."

There are about 20,000 buses, including 424 electric, in the city. According to Chen, the older, diesel powered buses produce carbon monoxide and led particles, two major air pollutants.

According to a preliminary plan, the government has decided to upgrade the No. 13 and No. 20 routes in the next phase, Chen said.

The cost of an upgrade for each bus is about 200,000 yuan.

Chen said the next step is to increase the power of capacitors so that they can run longer distances without a charge - particularly during rush hours.

He said the government also plans to gradually remove most overhead wires and power poles downtown.

Experts said maintenance will be about 80 percent cheaper compared to a conventional bus, creating strong market potential for transport operators.

Chen said the environmentally friendly buses have one major drawback. If it runs at a slow speed for quite some time, it loses power quickly.

(Shanghai Daily August 29, 2006)

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