Taipei, July 24 (CNA) The government is aiming to replace all diesel buses in Taiwan with electric buses in as little as eight years to reduce air pollution, Environmental Protection Administration Minister Shen Shu-hung said Tuesday.
The administration said it has reached agreement with the Ministry of Transportation and Communications to gradually eliminate the more-than 6,000 diesel buses around the country within eight to 13 years as part of efforts to promote electric vehicles and further minimize air pollution.
In June, the World Health Organization labeled diesel exhaust as probably carcinogenic.
The administration has also stepped up efforts to establish public battery exchange stations for electric scooters by subsidizing two private companies that sell the vehicles.
The two companies, one based in New Taipei and the other in Kaohsiung, plan to finish setting up 30 battery exchange stations in New Taipei's Banqiao District and Kaohsiung, respectively, by the end of this year.
The public have been reluctant to buy electric scooters because recharging is inconvenient and people are worried they will be left stranded if their batteries die while they are on the road, according to the administration.
The government hopes the exchange stations will increase the public's willingness to purchase electric scooters.
The exchange stations are different from battery recharging stations in which users have to wait for their batteries to charge. Instead, customers can simply drop off their dead battery and swap it for a freshly charged one, paying via a prepaid card.
Shen said that currently, there are more than 4,000 gas stations in Taiwan and that the government's goal is to set up battery exchange stations that exceed the number of gas stations.
"We estimate that at least 10,000 battery exchange stations will need to be set up around the country to make consumers more willing to buy an electric scooter," Shen said.
(By Zoe Wei and Nell Shen)