Are electric busses only a thing for the future?

Leiden is a city filled with people that always seem to be in a rush in getting somewhere. This becomes quite visible when one stands in front of the central station of Leiden at an early morning and sees the sheer amount of people walking in and around the station. One thing that bothers me is the big amount of people, including myself, that are forced to travel with busses that are still running on natural gasses or diesel. The two main bus companies that are active in Leiden are Veolia and Arriva. Both these companies have already been taking actions in making their busses more sustainable as stated in the sustainability policy of both respective companies. In my opinion however, the biggest transition hasn’t yet been conducted on a large enough scale: the transition to electric busses. This is where in my eyes the biggest possibilities lie for creating more sustainable transport in a relatively short time span.

To show how feasible this transition is I will shortly discuss a test that has been conducted in Maastricht with electric busses [1]. These ‘e-busses’ that I’m referring to are called citea electric busses by VDL and are already in use in Maastricht. These busses are illustrated below.

elektrische bussen

The test concerning these busses is being conducted by Veolia, and since Veolia also operates in Leiden I am definitely a supporter of the idea of putting these busses to test in Leiden as well. There are some aspects of these ‘e-busses’ that might cause some difficulties during a complete change from traditionally fuelled busses to electric busses. The main difficulty that may arise is the fact that these busses have batteries that need to be charged. These batteries are relatively small in size and therefore need to be charged quite frequently, this prevents the busses from traveling long distances with the current ‘smaller’ batteries. A possible solution for this problem would be putting bigger batteries in the busses, this will however lead to less space for passengers in the busses and is therefore a less preferred solution. A better solution is more frequent charging of these busses, so called quick charging methods. An example of an quick charging method would be: the  placement of charging points at departure points and final arrival points which would result in busses being able to travel longer distances. The placement of these charging points would be quite expensive if only used for one bus, on a larger scale however this placement might be more efficient than making busses with bigger batteries that are capable of taking less passengers. Concerning the financial part of this transition the municipality of Maastricht worked together with Veolia, the province of Limburg and the project: ‘zero emissie busvervoer’ (ZEB), through which funds were received from the European Local Energy Assistance (ELENA) foundation. This foundation is part of the European investment bank.  Besides this specific example of Veolia, Arriva has planned on testing another brand of electric busses in Friesland [2]. I think both these examples prove that the needed technology and resources are already existent and ready for use. I am therefore a big advocate for the testing of these busses for lines within cities and between cities where the routes are relatively short. This would mean that the current ‘smaller’ batteries would suffice and no extra altercations to the busses would be made for now. Cities could work together with the ZEB and the major bus companies Veolia and Arriva in order to gain investments and make the transitions to e-busses.

I believe all in all the transition to electric busses is a very realistic and huge step forward towards creating a more sustainable mobility environment. And, if this transition is performed successfully on a large scale in cities like Leiden we might see beautiful busses like the ones illustrated above a lot sooner that perhaps expected!



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7 thoughts on “Are electric busses only a thing for the future?”

  1. Hi Arash,

    A short queston, Why do you want to have busses in Leiden?
    I’m living here now for over three year and almost never used one. I actually hate them. It is hard to pass them by bike, yeah cycling is faster then with the bus, Why should we not invest for example in the OV-fiets?. And for the busses to the sea and such just keep the old system. I actually like the “Flink Fietsen” campaign way more:

    Gr. Jaco

    Thanks for your comment


    1. Dear Jaco.

      I understand that in a perfect world there would be no need for busses in Leiden at all and bikes would be the only traveling method. However, looking at the current situation in Leiden busses are an essential part of traveling for a lot of people who need to get around in Leiden and who dont have a bike. OV-bikes would actually be a good solution when one only considers people traveling without any luggage, but unfortunately this is not the case for a lot of people.
      Therefore transitioning to a electric bus system would, in my opinion, be a feasible area in which a transition to a more sustainable future, regarding mobility, can be made.

      Gr Arash


  2. You could also consider the classic Trolleybus system. Trolleybusses don’t have to rely on on batteries. The city of Arnhem is the only city in the Benelux that still uses a trolleybus system. It could become quite a hassle to wire up the entire city, but it could give the city that classy authentic feel, like those fast food joints that have tables made of Oak wood.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Jetse,

      I actually like your idea about the trollybusses. It would give the city a more authentic look, which would fit perfectly with Leiden. However one issue, that a transition to these busses could come across, is the 2 buscompanies in Leiden. Both Arriva and veolia already have electric busses in use in some parts in the Netherlands. Both these buscompanies might not want to change to these trolley busses in Leiden as it might cost alot to wire up the city, as you brought up yourself. I like the idea though, of perhaps looking at bus-sytems of the past to look and improve sustainability, regarding mobility.

      Gr Arash


  3. Interesting discussion! If i’m honest i don’t know if the electric trollybusses are such a good idea. Namely, busses are not only driving in Leiden itself. It also is in connection with other cities: The hague, katwijk, and much more. I think it is a little easy to say to get rid off the busses.. like i said, busses are not only important for the city itself but also for mobility in the areas around Leiden. Besides Jaco, i agree i don’t like to go by bus, i prefer my bike. But not everyone lives in leiden, and people come to leiden by train. How do you want to transfer these people??


  4. I feel electric busses are a good start on getting mobility in general more sustainable. As busses are driving a lot more hours a day than most cars it might makes a lot of sense to start at busses and work from there.


  5. Nice discussion! Interesting to make all buses electric. However, there are some problems. First, why do we use buses, instead of bikes? For long distances, buses are faster, but for short distance (inside the city), bikes are more comfortable and faster. Shouldn’t we provide more of them?
    I think we should look more at the underlying motives of people to travel in the first place. Can we make it easier to work at home (no travelling at all) or can we, like Jaco said, make more possibilities to use bikes?


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