Electric buses in Pécs from 2020

In July 2020, the bus public transport of the region reached an important milestone. The Municipality of Pécs procured 10 solo BYD electric buses. At Pécs 180 buses are now operating to provide public transport service for the daily 50.000 passengers.

The 10 new buses – that made Pécs the biggest e-bus fleet operator in Hungary – decrease the operating costs of the municipality-owned, urban, and suburban passenger transport company called Tüke Busz Zrt. The 12 meters long vehicles are manufactured in Hungary, in Komárom, where BYD has its bus assembly factory, using Hungarian labour coupled with the highest industrial technology level production. The 4,7 million EUR Pécs public transport project, besides the purchase of the e-buses, included building a new garage that is capable of charging the vehicles as well.

These electric vehicles are quiet during their operation, have not any polluting particle emission, and contribute to the healthier air and more environment-friendly public transport of the biggest city of South Transdanubia with a short of 150,000 inhabitants. The investment effected is in accordance with the National Bus Strategy that entered into force in 2019. The strategy sets that from the beginning of 2022 only electric buses could be deployed at Hungarian settlements that have more than 25.000, inhabitants.

Solemn handover of BYD electric buses at the main square of Pécs in July 2020.
Source: Government of Hungary / Facebook

In the case of Pécs, the procurement of electric buses is not without precedents. The project was well supported by the candidacy of the city to the European Green Capital Award in 2014 and 2016. Although the applications of the Baranya county seat town were not successful, the move towards electric mobility was an integral part of the two elaborated applications. The handover of the 10 buses in July 2020, therefore, means a beginning of the systematic replacement of the diesel buses of the Pécs municipality to electric ones. Among the plans for the near future, the continuous test operation of an electric articulated bus has a priority.

Last it is necessary to highlight that the energy supply for operating the electric bus fleet comes from the 10 MW built-in capacity photovoltaic power plant of Pécs. The energy generation facility was handed over in 2016 and was implemented by using a more than 12,6 million EUR European Union co-financing that was made available to produce, store and use local renewable energy.

The technical details and procuring of the e-buses 

Besides the above mentioned European Green Capital Award applications, the transport company Tüke Busz Co. in 2016 elaborated a Green Strategy with a subtitle of “Green way to green buses”. The document, among others, addressed the main decision points of fleet replacement, its investment need and the linking sustainability aspects, the electronic ticketing, and the information technology solutions for public transport. In the strategy, the most severe operating problems of the Pécs bus transport company, and the aspects of implementing sustainable company operation were also observed. From the very beginning of the Pécs diesel bus fleet replacement that started in 2012-2013 – it was the period when younger and less polluting diesel buses replaced the obsolete ones – they were convinced about the necessity of procuring electric buses.

The cover page of the Green Strategy of the Tüke Busz Co.
Source: Tüke Busz Co.

The 10 BYD e-buses that were purchased by the Hungarian law on public procurement have low floors, air condition, USB charging points, and are capable to transport 64 people. They have 13,000 kgs unladen kerb mass and 19,000 kgs maximum total mass. Buses have 348 kWh capacity battery pack that could be recharged during four hours by using the 80 kW (126 A) power, so called slow battery chargers. The vehicles have 386 kilometres range, on a one-kilometer route with three stops and a normal load. Further particularity is that compared to the fuel cost per kilometer of a diesel bus (0,43 EUR), the electric bus consumes a fraction of that (0,08 EUR) during one kilometer route. This latter favourable figure will generate a very significant fuel saving as the average annual mileage of one Tüke Busz Co. bus is 80,000 kilometres.

The public procurement documentation of the Pécs e-buses is exemplary for further territorial, regional hub towns and cities to develop their urban and suburban transport. In such regard, there are three main aspects to consider: the energy density, the price of the battery pack (which constitutes 30-50% of the total purchase price of an e-bus), and the mass/use of space ratio. In case the mass of the vehicle decreases, moving of the bus requires less power, and that results in a need for a smaller capacity battery pack. This, as a consequence, results in a more competitive electric bus price compared to the purchase price of the diesel bus.