5½ years ago, I rode on a BYD electric bus in Barcelona. I also spoke with the head of Barcelona’s transit agency about it. They had just been testing the bus for a few months, but initial results indicated the electric bus was cost-competitive with conventional fossil fuel buses across a reasonable timeframe, the type of timeframe transit agencies typically consider when buying buses.
So, it has been quite irritating to see how slowly transit agencies across Europe and North America have moved beyond pilot projects and on to major orders for electric buses. (China has been flying forward with electric buses.)
The good news is the Dutch provinces of Groningen and Drenthe have partnered on the purchase of 159 electric buses. That’ll make it the largest European the largest electric bus fleet in Europe. 60 of those electric buses come from EBUSCO, which is how we learned of the good news.
OV-Bureau is the agency in charge of public transport by bus in the provinces of Groningen and Drenthe. Having lived in Groningen for 5 months once upon a time, I can’t say I’m too surprised at its leadership here. The city of Groningen is by many counts the best bicycling city in the world, is a university city, and is quite progressive and forward thinking.
EBUSCO provided 60 electric 12-meter intercity buses. ”Travelers will really experience a new travel experience” says Steven van der Burg, who supervises the project from EBUSCO. “There are USB ports for telephone charging and comfortable seats are installed for the long distance. There is also a lot of daylight in the bus and no engine noise.”
Since the buses are so quiet, these buses also include a tram bell sound to alert pedestrians and bicyclists of the gigantic vehicle’s approach.
Aside from the large fleet size, a special thing about this electric bus fleet is that it includes intercity transport. Electric buses have mainly been used within cities so far.
The EBUSCO buses have 400 kilometers (250 miles) of range, which means the regional transport should be no problem.
“This allows the buses to be charged via a plug, so there is no need of a fast charging infrastructure to be set up in the region,” Peter Bijvelds, director of EBUSCO, says. “As a result, Qbuzz has been able to purchase more new electric buses and reduces more emissions.”
EBUSCO has a strongly developing relationship with Qbuzz, the public transportation company the Groningen and Drenthe service is a part of. “In Utrecht, there are already about ten buses on the bus line 1. In addition, in the city of Dordrecht from April 1st, all 37 electric buses are from EBUSCO. The introduction of another 60 electric buses in the provinces of Groningen and Drenthe underlines the initiative and success of both companies for a fast transition to clean, quiet and high-quality bus transport.”
So, we have liftoff! The Netherlands, a clear leader on electric transport and EV charging, is a leader on electric buses in Europe as well. (And let’s not forget about floating solar power while we’re heaping praise on the geographically small nation.)