The Kaohsiung City Government yesterday inaugurated a number of solar-powered tour boats operating at the city’s major tourist attraction — the Love River.
With five solar energy tour boats sailing down the river, Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) told the inauguration ceremony that the new fleet showed that tour boat services on the river had entered a new era.
She said the city government planned to build 10 more solar-powered boats in the near future to replace the 15 diesel “love boats” owned by Kaohsiung City Shipping Co (高雄市輪船公司) to provide visitors to the city a more environmentally friendly boating experience.
Wang Kuo-tsai (王國材), director-general of the city’s Transportation Bureau, said each new boat cost about NT$7.4 million (US$232,000), adding that the city government’s total budget for the project was NT$100 million.
Wang said the new boats did not release any exhaust into the river because they are charged by 18 solar energy panels and powered by two sets of 12 lithium batteries.
He said the boats were 6.7 times more cost effective than diesel boats, adding that they were expected to become another attraction, each having a capacity of 36 passengers — much more than that of Asia’s largest solar-powered boats operating in Japan.
“As a seaport city, Kaohsiung enjoys 2,200 hours of sunlight a year. [The city] has charming mountains, sea, rivers and a harbor and has been dedicated to developing green waterfront tourism in recent years,” Wang said.
To provide an incentive for Kaohsiung residents and tourists to experience the rides on the new boats, the city government will not raise the fares through the end of the year, Wang said.
Passengers can board the boats between 4pm and 11pm at the stop near the Ambassador Hotel for a 20-minute guided boat ride at the price of NT$50 for residents and NT$80 for non-residents, Wang said.