On Wednesday 14 October 2020, Interreg Europe Policy Learning Platform thematic experts in Research and innovation and Low-carbon economy organised a session on 'E-buses: From procurement to deployment' for the 18th European Week of Regions and Cities.
The session explored the transition to sustainable public transportation and challenges to be tackled from integrating electric buses into an urban transport system. To inform the discussion, two good practices from Interreg Europe projects were presented:
- Procurement: Prior market consultation process (iBuy) – presented by Didzis Stelbaums, Ventspils City Council, and Arvis Bernics, Ventspils Reiss, Latvia.
- Deployment: Transition to electric buses in Stockholm (EV Energy) – presented by Anna Forsmark and Sigrid Grandström, Stockholm County Council, Sweden.
Access the presentations here.
The discussion revealed many insights for other cities and regions aiming to support the transition to sustainable mobility:
- Political commitment is key – the transition is not only about purchasing new vehicles but also an entire paradigm change requiring long-commitment to infrastructure development.
- When procuring for e-buses, it is important to perform an initial market assessment to determine if current vehicles on the market can match regional needs. Open tendering, demonstrating the need of a region can help to stimulate innovation.
- Pre-studies should take a systems perspective and examine business models, grid and peak hour issues, sustainability, and economic feasibility, as in Stockholm;
- E-buses are more expensive to purchase than fossil fuel-powered buses, but are cheaper to run. Operational costs can be reduced through close co-operation between transport suppliers and managers;
- All new technologies have risks, which needs to be shared between private and public sectors. In Stockholm, buses operate via service contract, so performance risk is on private transport companies, whilst in Ventspils, the supplier is required to demonstrate performance before purchase by the public transport company;
- Social aspects must be considered, including socio-economic impacts of batteries. Both production and recycling criteria can be included in procurement documents;
- E-buses can fit well into existing routes with minimal disruption or change requirements, depending on charging infrastructure.
- The transition to e-buses can have a positive impact on regional employment providing higher quality and better paying jobs as a result of the need for greater expertise in maintaining vehicles, batteries and charging infrastructure;
- Speakers expressed that a combination of depot and opportunity charging has proven a good mix in their cities, though every case is different;
- E-mobility will be central in the next EU budgeting period (2021-2027) with lots of opportunities, especially related to the European Green Deal. Interreg Europe can offer many good practices to inspire other regions and the Policy Learning Platform can provide support for regions looking to make the transition.
Image credit: Photo by Jake Givens on Unsplash
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