Electric bus: ‘Flanders is lagging behind’
Peter Wouters, MD at bus builder VDL in Roeselare, says Flanders is lagging behind in the change to the electric bus. Flemish Minister for Mobility Ben Weyts (NV-A) says to be surprised by the critics.
Bus manufacturer VDL in Roeselare has 100 electric buses ready for delivery to the city of Amsterdam. The company decided a few years ago to go for electric. “This implies big investments in technology and development,” says Peter Wouters, “but in the end it will pay off.”
In the Netherlands new buses which are still producing exhaust gases are forbidden from 2025 onwards, all buses have to be zero emission in 2030. “It’s strange”, argues Wouters, “that the three Belgian regions even now still choose for diesel buses or hybrids.”
The VDL boss blames the politicians: “When politicians talk, for example concerning De Lijn in Flanders, they talk about budget and economies and far less about the technological possibilities of having clean buses very soon.”
Flemish Minister for Mobility Ben Weyts says to be surprised by the VDL boss’s critic. “We recently ordered 121 buses, partly diesel latest generation and partly hybrid, because we needed them urgently”, says Weyts. “They’ll be the last ones, in Flanders all buses will be electric in 2025.”
Weyts stipulates that in the Netherlands public transport has been privatized, so the additional cost of the electric buses has to be paid by the customer. “We didn’t want the Flemish people to pay for the growing costs of e-buses,” he concludes.
Research about cost
Interesting in this debate is an American study about the lifetime cost of electric versus diesel buses. Where the purchase price of electric buses is practically the double of diesel ones in the States, the lifetime cost including maintenance and fuel cost is already slightly higher for the diesel (1,35 against 1,18 million $).
If you take into account cost savings associated with health benefits and cost of carbon, the diesel bus costs more than the double: 2,6 million $ against 1,18 million $. Source: “Electric Bus Analysis for New York City Transit” by Judah Aber, Columbia University, May 2016.