TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The Ministry of Transportation and Communications has passed a new guideline that provides up to NT$3,338,000 (US$105,703) in subsidies per electric bus.
Taiwan’s government is planning to switch the country's buses to an all-electric fleet by 2030 in order to combat air pollution and minimize the impact of public transportation on climate change. In line with this goal, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications recently passed the Electric Buses in Public Transportation Subsidy Guideline,” which is scheduled to take effect on Sept. 1, reported the Liberty Times.
According to the guideline, electric buses in the first category, which have a wheelbase exceeding 4 meters, can receive up to NT$3,338,000 in subsidies per vehicle, while buses in the second category, which weigh over 4.5 tons and have a wheelbase shorter than 4.5 meters, are eligible for up to NT$2,600,000. This new guideline is in accordance with and offers practical measures for the "air pollution control project" passed by the Cabinet in 2017.
Not only city buses but also intercity buses are included in the new guideline, which means an estimated 15,000 buses will be affected by the policy. Subsidies will be given out in two stages: during the first 6 years, they will go to newly built e-buses, while battery changes will be subsidized in the following 6 years.
The cost of each e-bus starts from NT$7 million, so there is currently little incentive for bus companies to switch to a more environmentally friendly option. If the 2030 goal is to be met, at least 900 e-buses should be added every year to eventually replace the current fleet of 10,962 city buses, according to the Liberty Times.
The subsidized e-buses should have a "running rate" of at least 98 percent; those that meet expectations can receive a bonus of up to NT$2 million, although the subsidies must be paid back if an e-bus fails to meet the requirements laid down in the guideline. The 22 e-buses deployed in Taipei City last year have had a nearly perfect running rate and covered more than 560,000 kilometers in their first seven months of service, reported UDN.
Other cities around Taiwan have also taken actions to make their public transportation greener, with 160 e-buses operating in Taichung, 56 in Taoyuan, and 117 in Kaohsiung, according to UDN. However, e-bus drivers have voiced concerns about the stability of e-buses as well as their battery life, especially with the enormous amount of electricity consumed by air conditioning in the summer.
Yeh Chao-Fu, the commissioner of the Taichung City Government's Transportation Bureau, said that while a lack of charging stations for e-buses does not have a quick fix, carefully planned routes can ease drivers' worries over e-buses. The government suggests short and simple routes for e-buses and is planning designated bus lines around the city, reported UDN.