Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Reports on electric buses around the world

BYD eBus in New York City

Around the world many transport services are purchasing the Zero emission battery electric buses, whilst TFL in London are purchasing another 200 three door two staircase hybrid buses called the New Routemaster. I gave some quick updates on the situation with the electric buses in London in my recent article.

Here are some news reports of the electric buses from around the world. I know some may be a week or two old, but still, news is news.

St. Albert, Canada

Electric buses hit road this fall

St. Albert has become one of the first places in Canada to add an electric bus to its transit fleet.
City council announced this week that it had purchased three long-range battery electric transit buses for its transit fleet. The actual decision was made during the in camera portion of the Feb. 22 council meeting.

Council decided to pursue the purchase last August after hearing the results of the city’s August 2014 and March 2015 electric bus trials. The trials found that the buses were about five times more energy efficient than conventional diesel ones, produced about 51 per cent fewer greenhouse gas emissions, and were significantly cheaper to operate.
Each 35-foot bus cost $980,000 for a total of $2.94 million. Two-thirds of this cash came from the province’s GreenTRIP program, meaning that the city is paying about $323,400 per bus, reports city transit director Kevin Bamber.
GreenTRIP doesn’t normally fund replacement buses, but the city won the Capital Region Board’s support for this grant because the buses were electric, said Mayor Nolan Crouse.
Getting that provincial grant was a big factor in making this decision, Crouse said.
“The payback is long if you don’t have capital to supplement it.”
These buses will produce less noise and air pollution in operation than diesel buses and will be less expensive to maintain and run, Crouse said. They can also charge at night during off-peak hours when power is cheaper.
“They have a positive impact on the environment.”
While other Canadian cities have electric buses in their fleets, those are all test models rented or leased from manufacturers, Bamber said. St. Albert is likely the first place in Canada to actually buy an electric bus for its fleet and the first to buy this particular model.

Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town to be first African city to use electric buses

Cape Town, one of the Global Lead City Network on Sustainable Procurement participants, has issued tenders for the procurement of electric buses for its Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and feeder service, in line with its commitment to lowering carbon emissions.

A tender for the procurement of a fleet of 12-metre electric buses was advertised in February. The city is also considering electric double-decker buses that provide more seating for longer distance trips. The tender specifies that the electric buses should be able to travel at least 250 kilometres in traffic before the batteries need recharging. Apart from the buses, the successful bidder must also provide the city with the charging stations for the buses and the necessary training for the bus drivers and mechanical engineers.

“If all goes according to plan, Transport for Cape Town will be the first municipality in the country to benefit from the latest alternative fuel technology and we will be the first city in Africa to use electric buses for public transport,” said Patricia De Lille, Mayor of Cape Town. “This initiative directly supports the city’s commitment to the Paris Pledge for Action at COP21 and as member of the C40 Cities to take progressive action and lead the way in reducing energy consumption and emissions.”

In addition to the carbon credits that the city will earn for operating a green fleet, Cape Town will be able to sell these onto developed countries that are signatories to the Kyoto Protocol, generating extra revenue for the city.

Helsinki, Finland

Finnish electric buses serve as mobile testing platforms in the Helsinki region

Finnish electric buses serve as mobile testing platforms in the Helsinki region Finnish electric buses will soon be acting as development platforms for smart mobility services in the Helsinki region, used for boosting the creation of new user-centric solutions and product development of businesses.

The Living Lab Bus joint project, coordinated by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and launched at the beginning of 2016, uses the Finnish electric buses acquired by Helsinki Region Transport as concrete development and testing platforms for businesses to validate their solutions in a real use environment. The buses can be used for testing user-oriented smart services and technologies, ranging from user interfaces and passenger services to sensors and transport operators' solutions.

"The goal is to create a new type of everyday development environment for accelerating the product development of businesses by means of agile experiments, in close cooperation with end-users and research institutions. Potential new solutions include easy-to-use passenger feedback solutions, automated passenger counting, and automated road condition observations," describes VTT Project Manager Raine Hautala.

"Helsinki Region Transport expects the project to provide a flood of fresh ideas that will bring joy to passengers and make bus travel more appealing. Developing smart mobility services may be the order of the day, but Helsinki Region Transport is equally drawn to innovations designed to go in the cabin space," says Reijo Mäkinen, Director of the Transport Services Department at Helsinki Region Transport.

In addition to the Helsinki region, the City of Tampere is also participating in the project, exploiting the results in its own public transport development.

United States of America

Electric buses could dominate battery market by mid-2020s

Electric bus sales worldwide are growing at a rate of 20 per cent a year and could prove a "game changer" for the fast-expanding global battery market, according to a new report from research firm IDTechEx.

The large size of batteries required for electric buses, which can range from 74kWh for fast-charging buses to over 300kWh for slow-charging models, mean rapid growth could see the e-bus battery market reach $30bn by 2026. The surge in demand for e-buses could see the market overtake demand from the consumer electronics sector by 2019, making it the largest single segment of the global battery market, the report said.

"We expect that this sector will alter the entire value chain for battery production from material suppliers, battery manufacturers through to original equipment manufacturers," said IDTechEx in a release.

Nearly all the world's electric buses are currently produced in China, while three-quarters of batteries are also manufactured there, with the report arguing the country is attempting to dominate the battery market by keeping the whole supply chain of electric vehicles and batteries within its borders.

Lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries currently make up over 80 per cent of the market - a contrast to the electric car market, which uses more of a mix of different battery chemistries, the report added.

While the large-sized batteries needed for buses means LFPs are currently safer than alternative technologies such as nickel manganese cobalt (NMC) lithium-ion technology, IDTechEx predicts non-LFP battery technology could yet account for almost half the market in 2025 as safety improves and the technology takes advantage of the higher density and charging rate it enjoys over LFP batteries.

Proterra for 2 Million All-Battery Bus

Proterra said this week that its national fleet of all-electric transit buses has surpassed two million miles of revenue service, “providing communities coast to coast with clean, quiet transportation.”

The battery buses have saved transit agencies more over 420,000 gallons in fuel and prevented more than 7.6 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions, states a release.

“With 63 buses on the road today in Texas, California, Massachusetts, Nevada, Kentucky, Tennessee, Florida, South Carolina and Washington, Proterra is ramping up production in 2016 to meet the market’s growing need for clean, quiet, efficient transit solutions,” the company said.

“For the last five years, we’ve been operating Proterra zero-emission buses and are excited to expand our electric fleet with 13 new Catalyst vehicles coming into service,” Foothill Transit executive director Doran Barnes says in the Proterra announcement.

“With the latest round of Catalyst buses, nearly 10% of our fleet will be all-electric.”

“Transit solutions like Proterra’s,” said Clemson Area Transit executive director Al Babinicz, “address the economic and environmental hurdles we’re facing as a nation.” In 2014, Proterra says, South Carolina’s CatBusbecame the first transit system in North America to completely electrify its entire fleet, following the deployment of Proterra battery-electric buses.”

“This latest milestone exemplifies the economic, environmental and civic value of electric mass transit and demonstrates to the transit agencies that diesel – often viewed as a necessary evil – is no longer necessary,” said Proterra CEO Ryan Popple.

And here’s some bad news from San Francisco, USA.

Muni’s brand new buses struggle with SF’s hills, test results show

San Francisco is on a bus-buying spree. In the name of shoring up service, Mayor Ed Lee has invested nearly $26 million in purchasing new Muni buses since last year.

There is, however, a bump in the road: Some of Muni’s newest buses appear to struggle up San Francisco’s hills.

While the buses aren’t exactly rolling back down The City’s slopes, underpowered buses slow down Muni’s system, operators tell the San Francisco Examiner.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency tested its newest buses last November before letting rubber hit the cement, but the results of those tests — obtained by the Examiner — show Muni’s
new 60-foot electric buses don’t meet the agency’s own acceleration requirements for even moderately steep hills.

SFMTA officials told the Examiner they knew the buses couldn’t handle grades above 10 percent, so the agency would run them only on The City’s flatter routes.

Among the steepest routes in the Muni system are the 1-California and the 22-Fillmore. One portion of Fillmore is graded at over 18 percent, according to topographical maps.

Hills that steep will be off limits to the new buses.

The tests show, however, that the buses struggled even on the more modest hills — those measured in grades of 5 to 10 percent.

Additionally, the approximately 100 new electric buses may not be available to supplement out of service vehicles on steeper routes. The buses won’t be able to be plugged in as backups anywhere on the system, and are only usable on flatter terrain.

“That’s a reasonable decision,” said Peter Straus, a former SFMTA planner and now member of the San Francisco Transit Riders, an advocacy group.

“Not every bus needs to go everywhere and do everything,” he said.

Ordering double-engine, double length buses that could handle The City’s hills, Straus said, is an “additional cost, additional weight, and it’s a nonstandard product. You have to cross your fingers.”

Transit officials say they are satisfied with the new buses’ performance.

“They go up the hills, they carry people every day,” said John Haley, SFMTA’s director of transit.

Haley said the buses pass the “official” New Flyer diagnostics on moderately steep grades, and provided documentation which showed those tests were passed.

But a different document from Nov. 30, 2015, titled “SR1849 XT60 Performance Test Results — Coach 7210” indicates the new 60-foot trolleys failed key benchmarks for tackling San Francisco’s hilly topography at “required” speeds, as defined by SFMTA engineers.

This is a quick article to show news reports on the progress of the electric buses around the world.

I’ve also like to have a quick mention about the bus company named The Big Lemon in the south of England which had raised £160,000 to purchase an electric bus.

£100,000 raised for an electric bus… plus £60,000 towards a second one

The Big Lemon launched a fundraising campaign last month, to raise £100,000 for an electric bus, in the form of community bonds

And just a few weeks later the community interest company has raised £160,000enough for one bus, and half the sum needed for a second one. The money was raised by selling two-year bonds of £100 each to members of the local community at an interest rate of 6 per cent a year.

Tom Druitt, managing director of The Big Lemon, said: “We are all incredibly excited with the prospect of running zero-emissions electric buses in Brighton and Hove and humbled by the level of support we have received from the public.

“We would like to thank everyone who has supported us with our fundraising efforts the thought of running two electric buses in the city is very exciting indeed. We call on members of the public who might be interested to get in touch and help us improve air quality in Brighton and Hove.”

Ryan Wrotny, one of The Big Lemon’s drivers, said: “I’m really looking forward to driving electric buses on our routes in Brighton and Hove; it’ll be an exciting development for us and help us offer a better service to our passengers. I don’t know of anyone running electric vehicles on 100 per cent renewable energy so it might even be a UK first.”

Andrew Boag, chair of Brighton Area Buswatch, said: “This is a fantastic achievement. The Big Lemon fundraising scheme has far exceeded expectations and we congratulate them. It would be great to see one or hopefully two electric zero emission buses running in Brighton later this year. They will show the way and we hope other bus companies will follow.”

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