200 more eco-buses to hit roads this year

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200 more eco-buses to hit roads this year

The government will commit 9.1 billion won ($7.5 million) from the supplementary budget to introduce 200 more eco-friendly buses this year.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport said Tuesday that it will increase the number of electric and hydrogen-powered buses from its original target of 354 for this year.

The government had planned to introduce 319 electric buses and 35 hydrogen-powered buses this year through the annual budget. The new plan aims to increase that figure to combat Korea’s fine dust problem through pollutant-free buses and also help meet its target to deploy more buses that are wheelchair-accessible.

Currently, all eco-friendly buses are wheelchair-accessible.

The government is aiming to have 42 percent of city buses be wheelchair-accessible by 2021. As of the end of last year, 23.4 percent of all 34,287 city buses were wheelchair-accessible models.

The central government will provide support funds with regional governments for the new buses.

The eco-friendly bus roll out falls under the government’s push toward renewable energy and reduced reliance on emissions-heavy vehicles.

The government plans to increase the number of hydrogen city buses to 2,000 by 2022. It will also replace 802 buses used by the police with hydrogen buses. By 2030, the government plans to completely stop using diesel vehicles.

Korea is aiming to increase the share of renewable energy of the total output to 20 percent by 2030. As of 2017, renewable energy accounted for around 8 percent of total energy produced.

“If eco-friendly wheelchair-accessible buses increase, we can expect an effect like catching two birds with one stone by reducing fine dust and making it more convenient for the disabled,” said the ministry in a statement.

Of the 5.8 trillion won supplementary budget passed earlier this month, 900 billion won was allocated to the Land and Transport Ministry.

BY CHAE YUN-HWAN [chae.yunhwan@joongang.co.kr]
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