The other day, I took part in the environmental panel debate at the tourist fair in Gothenburg. Representatives from the fuel chain, the bus operators and a manufacturer were asked: How can the target to double the public transports to 2020 in Sweden be met?
The panel from left to right; Jessica Nygren (Swebuss Express), me, Ulf Svahn (Swedish Petroleum Institute) and the moderator Ragnhild Larsson.
The bus operator already does a lot to make the bus the natural and most attractive choice for the travellers. Swedish fuel suppliers provides different sustainable alternatives such as biodiesel or hydrogenated oils. And, new buses in Europe meet the Euro V legislation and have constantly decreasing fuel consumption.
In Sweden very few realise that the buses and coaches already have least impact on the environment among all alternatives. When I compare the price “per passenger” for the vehicles I find the following approximate numbers:
Bus: € 3 000
Car: € 5 000
Tram: € 17 000
Train: € 50 000
For the infrastructure and for the maintenance in Sweden I have not been able to find a breakdown of the cost distributed for gods and people. It seems however that also here there is a strong advantage for the bus.
Why doesn’t Swedish cities put priority to support for bus infrastructure? It seems clear that it is the only rout that will meet the environmental targets!
Historically the environmental impact has included:
From 1970ties: Hazardous emissions with impact on health, such as NOx, hydrocarbons and particulates
From 1980ties: Sulphur as contributor to acid rain, Substances that deteriorate the high altitude ozone layer
From 1990ties: Fossile carbon dioxide and other substances such as methane and nitrous oxide with impact on global warming
From 2000: Energy use and efficiency
The focus is not changing it is including more demands on the transports. The inclusion of energy use is justified by:
-The energy market is global, what is not consumed in one sector can be used in another sector or another part of the world.
-The global energy market is dominated by coal power plants and the marginal energy in general is fossile.
-The best kind of energy is the energy not used. Rather than changing energy carrier* it is of higher value for society to perform the same work with less energy.
*Noting the first law of thermodynamics that energy can not be consumed, just converted to other forms
Therefore, all over the world increasing emphasis is put on the energy efficiency of transports. As a consequence increasing efforts are made to analyse the energy use in society. In a recent french study, by the environmental authority ADEME, the energy use of person transports have been analysed and reported. Click here to reach ADEME
Not surprisingly for many of us the bus comes out as the overall “winner” for regional and intercity traffic in the vicinity of Paris. The high weight of trains increase the energy use. With a modern hybrid bus the difference is even more accentuated.
I spent the last two days in Berlin at a seminar series on electrical mobility.As most countries today Germany is planning for a future with less oil dependence. The challenge is to:
-Decrease the energy use
-Decrease the impact on global warming
-Decrease the health impact
-Increase the availability of transports
-Increase the personal freedom of choice
It is clear that public transports will be challenged by future fully electrical cars, when it comes to environmental impact. The public transports can however compete in big cities by using less street space and the environmental load for the manufacturing of the bus is much less than for the electric cars when the real number of person kilometres are accounted for. The expected development of future light weight design and electrification is an equal challenge for both cars and buses. It is likely that the person transport arena will change a lot to the benefit of the travellers. Some already speculate in that the future cars and buses will make the rail bound person transports redundant, except for high speed intercity trains that may compete with aeroplanes for distances between 400 and 1500 km.
In the process of change the Volvo 7700 Hybrid offers a natural and sustainable step and most important it offers competitive vehicle life cycle productivity not only when compared to other sustainable alternatives also when compared to stand. The comparison of technologies were presented by Dr. Ralph Pütz, at VDV. And, I would say that Volvo 7700 Hybrid is spot-on what is required to meet the demand for competitive future public transports.
The first Volvo 7700 Hybrid for commercial traffic was delivered to Sales-Lentz in Luxemburg in November.