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 . 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.
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 . 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!
Image : http://www.ovmagazine.nl/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Citea_Electric-590×290.jpg.