Key participants of the C40-CCI Hybrid & Electric Bus Test Program in Latin America, including city government officials and local bus operators, are on a unique fact-finding trip to a number of C40 cities around the world, where they are investigating best practices in transport policy as well as the performance and economics of different bus technologies. The trip was organized and led by Manuel Olivera, C40-CCI City Director in Bogota and the Director of the Hybrid & Electric Bus Test Program. In a dispatch from the field, Adalberto Maluf reports on the journey so far…
City officials and bus operators from C40 cities Bogota, Curitiba, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo – the participating cities of the C40-CCI Hybrid & Electric Bus Test Program –visited their colleagues in C40 cities Mexico City, London and Stockholm to learn and share experiences about the operation of low carbon buses, as well as the results of new infrastructure to prioritize public transportation, mainly Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems. This technical trip is a follow-on activity of the C40-CCI Hybrid & Electric Bus Test Program, which is funded by the InterAmerican Bank of Development (IADB).
The ability to survey the local practices and policies of these cities at the forefront of low carbon transportation has given our Program participants many new ideas and a deeper knowledge and understanding to draw from as we work to implement further advancements to the public transportation systems when we return to our home cities in Latin America.
Milena Martinez Palacio, General Manager of Organización Suma S.A.S, a bus operator at the Transmilenio BRT and the integrated bus system in Bogota had this to say:
“This trip has been an amazing opportunity to learn about new technologies for environmentally friendly buses directly where they are happening. Having the opportunity to discuss with bus operators that have been using these technologies have given us more confidence, and has also raised the importance for us to be part of this change.”
In Mexico City, the group observed the operation of the city’s first low floor parallel hybrid buses. The first eight units have been operating since April 2012 and have proved to reduce emissions and fuel consumption significantly. We also had the chance to visit the operation of the newest line of Mexico City’s BRT – Metrobus line 4 – which has significantly reduced the time between the international airport and downtown, as well as improved the traffic congestion and air quality in the historical downtown. Now, major roads in downtown Mexico City are 100% dedicated to pedestrian and public transportation, improving the public space and business activities dramatically.
And Mexico City wants more. Five (5) new BRT lines are scheduled to be in place within the next 6 years, adding more than 100kms of exclusive bus lines at a cost of US$ 4 million per kilometer. When finished, these new lines will improve the mobility of more 2 million commuters in Mexico City.
From Mexico, the group travelled to London, where we met with Transport for London (Tfl- Public Transportation Authority). TFl shared their four-plus years experience operating hybrid and electric buses. London has one of the largest hybrid bus fleets in the world, with 316 vehicles operating, both serial hybrids and parallel hybrids, from many different suppliers. “It’s always good for us to see these buses in real operation, so that we can learn first-hand about the challenges and benefits of each technology” said Elcio Karas, manager of Transport for URBS (Urbanization of Curitiba), a C40 city well known for pioneering BRT projects back in 1974. “We have introduced the first 30 hybrids in Curitiba, and it’s good to see that these results are very promising both as an environmental and economical solution to climate change and local air pollution” added Mr. Karas.
It was important for us to see that despite its great subway “Tube” network, London has also expanded its exclusive bus lines systems and is investing in low carbon fleets, as buses still account for majority of the public transportation ridership in the city.
Stockholm And Gothenburg
After London, the group visited other important environmental leaders in Stockholm, a C40 city, and Gothenburg, a city with extensive knowledge to share on the operation of hybrid bus fleets. We were able to visit some bus operators, which use biogas (made from urban waste and sewage) and other sustainable fuels like ethanol (made from sugar cane produced in Brazil) as well as dimethyl ether (DME) from pulp waste . We studied local public spaces and bicycle networks and shared experiences in fostering non-motorized transportation and improving facilities for pedestrian.
The majority of Stockholm’s bus fleets are operating with renewable fuels and the four major trunk bus lines within the city have increased the share of public transportation in the overall mix of transport options available to city residents.
In Gothenburg, despite its large light rail network, the City has been focusing mainly on the expansion of low carbon fleets for buses, as they believe it presents the best economic and environmental solution for the city. We were able to understand how the business model for hybrids could be feasible. After testing 25 hybrid units for many months, the city purchased 25 new hybrid buses (out of 52 new vehicles) on the basis of their life cycle cost over 8 years of operation, along with favorable maintenance service contracts. The initial results on their performance are promising.
Coming Up Next…
Next, we are heading to the C40 cities of Shanghai and Hong Kong, as well as Shenzhen in China to visit bus factories for hybrid and electric buses, as well as bus operators and local government officials in cities that have been operating large fleets of low carbon emission buses. Stay tuned for our dispatch from these leading Asian cities.
Launched in June 2011, the C40-CCI Hybrid & Electric Bus Test Program aims to reduce the carbon footprint of public transportation in Latin America, and develop a market for fuel efficient, low-carbon buses in the region. It tests bus technology performance in city-specific driving conditions and duty cycles; and, through the publication of results, establishes the case for investment in hybrid and electric buses. The final report of the program will be published in early 2013.