Network Approach Advances Next-generation Buses

Road congestion and corresponding emissions are growing problems in today’s cities. Increasing ridership on public buses is one way to address the issue. But what about improving the buses themselves?

Some C40 mayors are able to exercise their powers in the transportation sector, through the ownership or operational control of key transport assets and the ability to set and enforce regulations. New technologies can improve the fuel-efficiency and emissions of buses by as much as 30 percent. However, their wide-spread adoption is often stalled by a lack of performance data to support investment.

The cities of Bogota, Curitiba, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro have come together under the Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI) Hybrid & Electric Bus Test Program to accelerate the adoption of low-carbon buses in Latin America, where road transportation accounts for 90% of transportation emissions. The program is supported by the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB). In the coming months, the environmental performance and economic benefits of hybrid and electric buses from several manufacturers will be tested under real traffic conditions in each city. CCI is also collaborating with the World Bank in a parallel initiative in Mexico City, where hybrid buses will be tested along conventional routes and in bus rapid transit (BRT) applications.

Hybrid buses are typically powered by a conventional internal combustion engine and an electrical propulsion system that captures, stores, and reuses energy that would otherwise be lost in braking. An electric bus is battery-based and can be charged by plugging-in at a charging station. The emissions generated by an electric bus can approach zero if the electricity used to charge it comes from low-carbon generating sources such as hydroelectricity.

“The results of these tests will be extremely valuable in establishing both the environmental and business case for a city’s potential investment in hybrid buses,” says Edward Jobson, Director of Environment for Volvo Bus Corporation, a partner of the Hybrid & Electric Bus Test Program. “The Clinton Climate Initiative has initiated an ambitious program, which will show that the actions required to mitigate climate change need not be costly to society.”

Stay tuned for more information as the program breaks ground in early June.

Existing bus technology partners include: Volvo Bus Corporation, BYD Motor Inc., and Eletra Industrial Ltda.