SA’s first electricity-powered public transport to hit Cape Town roads in near future

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In the near future, 60 000 weekly MyCiTi bus commuters in Cape Town will travel in vehicles that run solely on electricity or biofuel, helping ease the pressure of gas emissions placed on the environment.

This was announced by the City of Cape Town during the African Union of Public Transport (UATP) Workshop on Best Practice in Africa, held in the Mother City last week.

“While the MyCiTi bus service has significantly improved the quality of life of our residents through access to affordable, decent and safe public transport, we now also have the responsibility to lower our carbon emissions and the impact of pollution on the urban environment. As such, Transport for Cape Town, the City’s transport authority, will issue a tender for the procurement of electric buses within the next few months,” city mayoral committee member, councillor Brett Herron, said in a statement.

“In addition, we are undertaking a research project into biofuels to determine how we can make use of alternative fuel to improve our efficiency and to run a cleaner MyCiTi service,” Herron went on.

The City of Joburg was first to launch a “green” solution to public transport with a new fleet of environmentally-friendly Metrobuses unveiled in July, but the city of Cape Town is the first to turn to the power of electricity.

Back in 2012, the now-defunct Optimal Energy, makers of the Joule electric car and promoters of electric public transport, proposed the introduction of electric buses into services like MyCiTi and the Johannesburg-based Rea Vaya.

“An electric bus can offer local bus rapid transit (BRT) systems a 15% to 20% life-cycle saving, compared with diesel buses,” Optimal Energy CEO, Kobus Meiring said at the time. Unfortunately, that project never took off. But it’s never too late to get one officially going.

Of course, provisions for loadshedding will have to be taken into consideration; more on that will probably be revealed once a service provider is located and a clearer way forward is mapped.

According to the latest research, presented at the transport workshop, buses running on electricity or biogas can cover more distance than normal buses with diesel engines for the same amount of energy. MyCiTi buses collectively cover an average distance of over 1.27 million kilometres each month, the city said.

Experts at the event also highlighted the fact that 97% of public transport across the world operates on diesel, contributing to pollution and climate change and that worldwide there are 3.1 million deaths from particle emissions.

“An added benefit of electric buses is the fact that they operate almost silently, which will also help to cut back on noise pollution,” said Herron.

[Source and image – City of Cape Town]

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