The Sarawak Government has rejected the use of diesel-powered stage buses that the Federal Government intends to bring in through the Stage Bus Services Transformation programme.
Instead, they want the bus to be swapped with electric powered engine buses, Bernama reported.
The decision on the use of electric buses by the state government is aimed at absorbing fiscal price pressures due to weekly diesel price fluctuations, especially to those who use bus services on a regular basis.
Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Abang Openg said the transformation of stage buses should be implemented in energy-efficient concepts, in line with modern technology and Sarawak has the capacity of supplying electricity at low tariffs.
"A sum of RM50 million is required to bring at least 50 electric buses to the state within the next three years. The use of these electric buses has a significant impact and added value to the Sarawak tourism industry as a whole.
"Majority of our foreign tourists have a high degree of awareness on environmental protection, so the use of electric buses using green energy will be effective publicity to promote the state as a conservation destination," he said.
In an agreement signed in November last year, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri, announced that the Stage Bus Services Transformation programme is aimed at replacing old-fashioned public transport to new buses.
At least 100 new buses are expected to be brought into Sarawak starting this year with the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) responsible for managing the buses, while a local consortium is set up to carry out operations.
Abang Johari said the state government's intention to use electric buses was already presented to the Federal Government but the restrictions on allocation had caused the number of new buses to be reduced.
"In line with the state government's policy emphasising on the sustainable use of green energy concepts, we reject stage buses that use diesel engine. Hence, the stage bus that are to be brought in this year will be reduced to accommodate the cost of replacing the electric engines.
"The state government will take the initiative to re-invest in buying that type of bus, thus terminating diesel-powered bus engines in order to protect the state from the impact of fuel combustion," he said.