Free eco-friendly bus service to start in Kuching

Greener option: (From left) Abang Johari, state Transport Minister Datuk Lee Kim Shin and other dignitaries going for a ride in the newly-launched hydrogen bus service.

KUCHING: A free hydrogen bus service will start running on two routes in and around Kuching as part of Sarawak’s efforts to develop an eco-friendly public transport system.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said the service was a joint initiative by the state’s Transport Ministry and Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) to promote “reliable, affordable, safe and eco-friendly” public transport in Sarawak.

“This is a pilot project to promote our tourism and public transport. The Transport Ministry is monitoring it and we may have to add additional hydrogen buses in our efforts to promote our public transport system,” he said when launching the service here yesterday.

The service currently has three hydrogen-powered buses supplied by China’s Foshan Feichi Automobile Manufacturing Co Ltd and operated by SEDC.

Starting today, it will serve a 14km downtown heritage loop from Kuching Waterfront to Central Timur, Ban Hock Road, Riverside Majestic Hotel, Kubah Ria and Malay kampung heritage area and the 67km Damai loop from Riverside Majestic to Damai Central.

The service is currently offered free and will run from 7am to 7pm daily.

Abang Johari said this was the first step in the state’s efforts towards developing a public transport system.

“The next step is for us to improve our public transport using hydrogen. At the moment, research is more in favour of hydrogen compared to electric, because with electric you have to dispose of the batteries after three to five years.

“We have been studying the options and we feel this is the best option as it has zero emission,” he said.

The buses can travel about 300km or 15 round trips on the Kuching route on a single refill.

They are equipped with high-speed WiFi and the H2Sarawak app, which has features such as bus live location, Google Transit integration for commuters to find the nearest public transport station and push notifications of promotions and places of interest.

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