Big challenges but bigger opportunities for electrified public transport
André ten Bloemendal explores the key challenges and opportunities for electric buses, and why a collaborative effort is needed to achieve the net zero goals
Despite bus travel falling by more than 80% at the height of the pandemic, the future of the UK public transport industry looks healthy. Along with a return to work and in-person school in September, ridership increased 39% to about two-thirds of pre-pandemic levels. In addition to fewer empty seats, passengers coming out of recent closures may have noticed something different about the buses themselves. Since the start of 2021, Transport for London (TfL) has added 550 zero-emission buses to its fleet, including the first fully-electric double-decker buses, and the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has pledged to deliver a 100% zero-emission bus . fleet in London by 2034, three years earlier than originally planned.
Electrify municipal buses in the UK and Europe
To achieve its goal of 100% decarbonization by 2050, the government presented its ambitious goals in July in its new Decarbonising Transport plan: A Better, Greener Britain. It includes £ 3 billion in new funding for at least 4,000 zero-emission buses (ten times the current number), which will make the UK’s eBus fleet the largest in Europe by 2024. To Across Europe, the number of eBus is expected to increase by almost 200% over the next three years. Today, Europe is the world’s second largest municipal eBus market (behind China and ahead of the United States). Offering, preparing and even paying for a zero emission bus fleet is one thing, but making it a reality will not be easy.
Electric buses require a lot of electricity, as well as large investments in charging infrastructure to power them. Along with national initiatives to ensure that electricity grids can meet increased electricity demand, cities and local governments must also prepare to invest in technologies that support sustainable transport. To invest properly in the production of electric buses, the large bus operators will need government support in the form of subsidies as soon as possible. Collaboration – between government, bus operators, charging networks, civil servants and citizens – will be needed along the way to make full electrification of public transport a reality.
While the rapid electrification of buses will be a challenge, it also presents a huge opportunity, not only to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and pollution, but to reinvent a better, more efficient form of road transport. and technologically advanced that benefits everyone. Cleaner air, less noise and smarter cities are just a few of the benefits of an electric bus fleet – and those reasons alone would likely be enough to justify the switch – but eBus offer other benefits as well. important compared to their traditional counterparts.
Lower fuel costs and more uptime
At its core, electricity is cheaper than fossil fuels and much less prone to global instability and price fluctuations. Today’s smart grid charging and sophisticated power management tools can also deliver additional savings. Electric refueling easily connects to other systems, such as route planning tools and telematics. Therefore, fleet managers can optimize the timing of refueling and energy use to further reduce costs. With far fewer moving parts than traditional vehicles, almost no fluid changes, and the added benefit of regenerative braking to prevent brake wear, electric buses provide longer uptime and longer life than conventional vehicles. conventional diesel buses, according to the Alternative Fuels Data Center.
The electrification of transport is now certain. In the words of the Ministry of Transport, “buses are the easiest, fastest and cheapest way to improve public transport.” While change is never easy, it happens quickly. The will is there, and significant investments have already been made. Bus fleets have pledged to purchase only zero-emission vehicles by 2025 and refueling technologies already exist to unlock the benefits listed above. Before long, even skeptics will realize the benefits of electrifying buses, and will likely wonder why it didn’t happen sooner.
The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Automotive World Ltd.
André ten Bloemendal is vice president of ChargePoint
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