Panama, like most of the world’s nations, is making plans to realize the carbon reduction pledges it made in Paris in 2015. Part of those plans is the National Electric Mobility Strategy, which prioritizes low carbon solutions to transportation within the country. Part of that strategy is to increase the number of battery electric buses on the roads of Panama to as much as 35% by 2030.
MiBus, which operates the Metrobús public transport system, has been testing two electric buses supplied to it for free by BYD for the past year. As a result of those trials, MiBus has decided to cancel an order for 160 new diesel buses and purchase electric buses from BYD instead. In total, MiBus will spend $35 million to purchase 195 medium size electric buses for use in Panama City.
In a telephone interview with the Panama Star, Luis Campaña, manager of MiBus, explained that the year long triual period demonstrated the value of regenerative braking and that the buses air conditioning systems were capable of managing the hot, humid environment of Panama. “Since the beginning of 2019, free tests have been carried out with two buses, one large and one medium size bus,” Campaña said. The medium size buses will be used on routes in the Old Quarter, where larger buses might not be able to negotiate narrow streets easily.
The MiBus representative clarified that his company originally thought of “presenting a proposal for the purchase of 35 medium or 10 meter electric buses, plus 160 diesel buses to partially replace the existing fleet,” but came to believe “it would be better to expand the framework and acquire 195 electric buses .” Campaña affirms “the international price of each unit is around $ 180 thousand.” With this initiative, Panama is on course to comply with the National Electric Mobility Strategy that promotes the use of low-emission transport. Sadly, the United States does not have as robust a mobility strategy as Panama’s.