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Webinar recording: Clean public transport

By Platform

On 30 November, the Policy Learning Platform held the first of its trilogy of e-mobility webinars, on the topic of Clean Public Transport, examining the uptake of electric buses, trolley-buses and trams across Europe. 

Regions across Europe face several challenges in supporting uptake of e-mobility, which will be an essential part of decarbonising the mobility sector, particularly for urban transportation. This webinar series will explore e-mobility from three angles – public transport, charging infrastructure, and city strategies – to provide an overview of challenges, opportunities, and proven good practices in each sector. 

Encouraging more people to use public transport is a major part of our decarbonization effort, but we must also ensure that transport fleets themselves contribute to zero-emission goals. This will require procurement of new vehicles, new infrastructure development, innovations in finance and business models, and development of new maintenance and operational skills.

These topics and challenges have been explored by Interreg Europe projects, and this webinar featured practices and lessons from the eBussed and E-MOB projects.

Webinar recording

Agenda overview

Moderation and concept by: Katharina Krell and Simon Hunkin, Thematic Experts of Low-carbon economy.

00:07:24 Keynote speech by Jeroen Golstein from the Province of Utrecht on procurement and the roll-out of electric busses (eBussed)

00:19:06 Q&A: Could you elaborate on the total cost of ownership and how do e-buses compare to diesel buses? 

20:57:00 Q&A: Were all buses procured from the same company? 

21:31:00 Q&A: How about the maintenance and the necessity of training staff? Is there a need to train the mechanics and the drivers? 

00:24:31 Q&A: Procuring a contract is based on best value for money and the extent to which the PTO can fulfill the procurement requirement, can you tell more about the type of requirements put in the contract? 

00:28:08 Presentation by Aleksi Heinonen from the Turku University of Applied Sciences about the project achievement: The eBussed readiness indicator tool 

00:39:18 Q&A: What kind of profile would people need to have to test the Bussed readiness indicator tool? Do you need any technical skills or is it a team effort? 

00:40:48 Q&A: Is it an easy tool for interpretation or do you need an expert to understand the output? 

00:43:52 Presentation by Sava Chiser from the Regional Development Agency Centre on the good practice: Upgrading the trolleybus system and procuring new e-busses for the City of Brasov, Romania (E-MOB

00:53:52 Q&A: How did you decide on which lines and which busses should run? 

00:55:18 Q&A: What is the perspective for the trolleybuses in the future? Will you still have them or will e-buses take over? 

00:57:32 Q&A: What is the line range, where the e-buses are used to transport and how many times are the e-buses charged during the working day? 

Panel discussion

01:03:35 Q&AWhat lessons from operation have you learned for future procurement? 

01:10:07 Q&A: You mentioned the possibility to procure at national level. Is it better to procure nationwide, a group of cities or every city by itself? 

01:14:31 Q&A: Do your cities include trams in the future mobility strategy?

01:22:59 Q&A: How have passengers reacted to the e-buses? Have you gathered feedback? 

Key Learnings 

From this webinar, we can highlight some key insights for local and regional policy-makers:

  • Electrification is a powerful means to reduce particle and CO2 emissions from transport, especially when the electricity is produced by renewable energies.
  • Public transport will be a key part of the low-carbon transition, being per se less carbon intensive, per passenger than private vehicles. Electrifying public transport brings an added bonus of removing tailpipe emissions for cleaner air and reducing transport noise. However, making use of e-buses is not a drop-in process, but a complete system change requiring a high-level of co-ordination and co-operation.
  • Local administrations in charge of procuring local public transport services are key players in driving the electrification in this area;
  • The Province of Utrecht, Netherlands (partner of eBussed), is aiming to acquire 100% zero-emissions public transport by 2028, which will require around 520 zero emissions buses (with around 80 acquired so far). For charging, Utrecht is looking to depot charging and longer-range battery buses as the solution. Several limitations were noted, including the capacity of the electricity grid, safety concerns, space and costs;
  • Additional challenges identified by eBussed partners include the limitations of early-uptake of technology (learning curve, higher chances of errors), limited range of e-buses, the impact of weather on air conditioning and heating, challenges of testing and training, and acceptance by politicians and citizens;
  • eBussed noted that many e-bus solutions are now advanced, with companies offering off-the-shelf solutions and with these solutions offering no additional costs in total cost of ownership compared to conventional buses. The project recommends developing a strategic plan with clear targets, seeking agreement with stakeholders and partners, taking a long-term view with small scale pilots and small steps, leading to wider roll-out and considering the entire system, including charging and renewables;
  • The eBussed partnership has prepared an E-bus Readiness Indicator Tool, open for use by public and private stakeholders to assess their present conditions regarding the introduction of e-buses. The tool looks at indicators in five categories: government policies and investment, charging infrastructure & energy, business models and maintenance, awareness and education, and operational scope. Using the tool can help to indicate where further work is needed in a region. The tool can be accessed here at the eBussed website and is accompanied by a publication. For more information, contact eBussed lead partner, Aleksi Heinonen from Turku University of Applied Sciences ([email protected]​)
  • The City of Brasov (Romania), partner of the E-MOB project, is aiming to have a sustainable public transport system within the city centre by 2028, making use of e-buses, trolleybuses and hybrid buses, as well as electric trains for metropolitan train lines, by 2030. Lessons learned in the process of first procurements have included the importance of considering power transformer issues, the use of fast charging stations, and training for staff, including drivers, technicians and IT specialists. The region recommended also getting external technical support for project development and writing terms of reference, before starting, and, like Utrecht, starting with small steps to build first-hand experience;
  • Discussions were held on depot infrastructure, charging and safety, including challenges related to higher fire-risk of e-buses. Participants also discussed procurement, and whether individual municipalities should procure individually or collectively, and that longer term timelines are needed than for diesel buses. Various forms of e-vehicle were also discussed. Buses were regarded as the main electric public transport options, with less focus on trams because of the need for infrastructure, the high cost and their impact on road transport;
  • Support is available from many resources, such as the European Structural and Investment Funds, with an ever-growing focus on combatting climate change and supporting the energy transition;
  • Public authorities should take advantage of opportunities to learn from other regions which have already begun the transition, through Interreg Europe projects and the Policy Learning Platform which can offer on-demand expert support through peer reviews and matchmakings
Image credit: Lakobchuk from EnvatoElements
Public transport