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19 December 2013

London’s first pure electric ‘emission-free’ buses hit the streets

London has entered a new era of emission-free bus travel. Transport for London (TfL) and bus operator Go-Ahead London have started a trial of the capital’s first electric buses on 18 December 2013.

Routes 507 and 521 will trial the new buses as the technology is particularly suitable for busy short commuter services which operate between Victoria, Waterloo and London Bridge stations.  The electric buses have zero tail pipe emissions, resulting in lower carbon emissions.

The trial will help TfL develop plans for greater use of electric buses in central London in the future, supporting the Mayor’s vision of a central London Ultra Low Emission Zone. The 12-metre single deck buses were built by Chinese manufacturer BYD Auto Ltd.

TfL will closely monitor the performance and reliability of these buses. The trial will be used to establish whether the technology can stand up to the rigours of operating in an intense urban environment such as London. The manufacturer’s tests demonstrated a potential running cost saving of around 75 per cent compared to a diesel bus.

 The buses take around four to five hours to fully charge overnight and should have a range of 250 kilometres, which would be sufficient to operate these buses for a full day on these routes without the need to recharge.  In addition to the two buses in this trial, six additional electric buses will be introduced into the TfL fleet in early 2014.

The electric bus trial is one of the measures the Mayor of London has introduced to make London’s bus fleet more environmentally friendly, including the operation of zero-emission hydrogen buses and delivering Europe’s largest hybrid bus fleet. Around six hundred hybrid buses now operate on London’s roads. By 2016 there will be more than 1,700 hybrid buses in service on London’s streets representing 20 per cent of the total bus fleet.

If you would like to learn more about London’s experience with clean urban buses, join our Clean Fleets workshop in March 2014.

10 December 2013

Workshop on clean bus procurement attracted great turnout

The first Clean Fleets European workshop gathered 75 participants in Bremen, Germany between 11-12 December 2013. The workshop offered presentations from experts, experiences from different cities and interactive discussions on clean bus procurement.

During a study visit, participants had the chance to ride on an innovative electric bus that uses the existing tram infrastructure for charging. Bremen is currently trialling this bus from Vienna (see Clean Fleets case study [pdf]).  Presentations and photos of the event are available on the workshop web page.

There was consensus that the use of electric buses will see a fairly significant increase in the coming decades, even though it was also agreed that they are not suitable for all routes or contexts and are only part of the solution. Participants identified various barriers to the purchase of electric buses, especially by smaller municipalities. The decision not to invest due to the current lack of experience and familiarity with the technology is perpetuated by rapid technological developments and the risk of obsolescence.

Another major barrier is a lack of funding. Many participants called for EU subsidies to assist with the direct purchase of vehicles. Smaller municipalities expressed an interest in exploring opportunities for joint procurement. Leasing buses or batteries can also help to overcome limited resources and to divert some of the risks associated with innovative technologies. It was concluded that there is no one-size-fits-all solution and various factors influence what may work best in a particular city or region.

There will be three further European workshops on clean vehicle procurement in 2014 organised by the Clean Fleets project in London (March), Stockholm (May/June), and Rotterdam (November). More information on exact topics and dates will be announced shortly.

10 December 2013

Skåne's regional public transport operator commits to biogas

Photo: calflier001, Flickr

Swedish regional public transport operator Skånetrafiken aims to fuel its entire fleet on clean-burning biogas by 2020. The switch aims to dramatically reduce emissions. Skånetrafiken provides bus and train services for ten cities and 33 local authorities in the region of Skåne in southern Sweden.

By 2020, Skånetrafiken wants to fuel all of its buses solely with environmentally friendly biogas. In 2006, the public transport operator started with the introduction of 140 buses fuelled by a combination of natural gas and biogas. To date, half of its fleet of 1,000 buses now run on gas.

Over 250,000 people travel on the company’s buses every day, adding up to some 140 million trips annually. Skånetrafiken accounts for over 26,500 tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2012, which should be decreased to almost none by the end of the decade. Emissions of nitrogen oxide, sulphur dioxide and particulates will also fall as diesel is phased out in favour of cleaner-burning biogas.

Skånetrafiken is involved in educational projects to persuade people in the region to use their cars less in favour of public transport to help decrease overall emissions. The company’s environmental strategist Kristina Christensson said, ‘Skånetrafiken is working intensively to encourage more people to use public transport because the more people take the bus the greater the gain for the environment.’

More information:

TfL ISIS Palencia URTP VAG Sofia Rotterdam Zagreb Stockholm TÜV Nord Bremen TTR ICLEI Europe - Local governments for Sustainability
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