Owing to the current COVID-19 pandemic situation, the e-Bussed study visit and project meeting that has formerly been planned to be organised in Livorno, Italy, on 22-23 April 2020, was finally held online. Representatives of the partner regions and their stakeholders participated to the meeting.
On 22 April 2020, Wednesday morning general project information was discussed. Project partners reorganized the project timeline, this means – for example – that the project Hungarian project meeting originally planned in autumn 2020 will be postponed to the spring of 2021. Partners also reported on the current project status in each region. Hamburg and Utrecht already have e-buses is in use of public transport, while in Paks 5 + 1, in Pécs 9 + 1 and in Gozo 6 e-buses are being procured. In addition to these, in regions currently being in the phase of establishment e-bus public transport, the different possibilities of installing and operating the supporting physical and IT infrastructure are being examined, and where applicable, prepared, too.
In Wednesday afternoon, project participants were divided into 4 groups, each of the groups discussed the drivers and barriers and the specific aspects of those, such as political, social, economic and technical and further concerns. Participants of the groups used the cloud based online “Mentimeter” tool to asses their positions as regards the aspects debated.
The online meeting was continued on 23 April 2020, Thursday, with the overviewing the current status of the work taking place in project Technical Working Groups (TWGs). In TWG1 working group (drivers and barriers) the findings of the previous day were briefly discussed, and the results of the “Mentimeter” survey were presented, too.
- political: this aspect relates to the different governance approaches (the bottom up and the top down) that have implications on government (financial) support, be that on national or at regional levels,
- social: the main driver here, according to groups, is “health benefits and climate impacts”, with a clear linkage with/reference to governmental policies,
- economic: the main driver is the insight into the cost implications of purchasing and operating e-buses in comparison with diesel busses,
- technological: the most important aspect here is the different innovations as regards energy supply, and the spillover effects of sustainable, locally produced renewable energies,
- political: to identify cost implications and limitations in terms of e-buses versus diesel busses,
- social: regarding the e-bus passengers and inhabitants of the city, it was noted that in case of medium-sized cities there is a lack of space, hence residents will not be content with the amount of public space that electrical facilities and e-bus infrastructure demands compared to the dimension of urban space that diesel buses need,
- economic: new ways of procurement mean involvement of more stakeholders to deal/negotiate with. Therefore the process takes longer time and requires more effort to come to an agreement. Another concern was that for serving the same number of passengers along a given bus lane, more e-buses are needed to be in service than diesel busses, because of the range of diesel busses significantly increase that of the e-buses, whilst is refuelling period is far less shorter,
- technological: reluctance to e-bus standardization is observed, as the technology is in use in a given region is defined by each region itself. Therefore wise observation is necessary to identify the type of technology that could be in service in the more numerous number of European regions.
As for the rest of Thursday, in TWG2 (technological requirements) the project partners addressed the technical description of the e-bus fleets they use/will use, while in TWG3 (user interface) the questions and concerns of bus drivers and bus passengers were debated. Last, but not least TWG4 (procurement, tendering, financing) the viable and sustainable finance issues of e-bus fleets and their infrastructures were observed. The two days meeting properly illustrated the most important aspects of deploying e-buses, also enabled the 6 partner regions to continue their work for the benefit of e-bus public transport.
The eBussed project is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund and Hungary. More information: https://www.interregeurope.eu/ebussed/