The regional government is to trial the use of electric buses for routes of twenty kilometres or more. One of the specifications for new bus transport concessions that will be effective from 2019 is the progressive introduction of vehicles which generate lower or no emissions.
An electric bus provided by Irizar is to be tested in Calvia and in Alcudia. It can operate for up to twelve hours and is recharged overnight. The trial will last a month so that real field tests can be conducted and reliability assessed. In Calvia, the bus will be on the 104 service between Paguera and Palma.
This type of bus is in use in parts of Europe, and its advantages are clear - no emissions and low noise pollution. The director for transport, Jaume Mateu, says that operational issues in Majorca need to be considered. One is the time it takes to recharge the batteries. Others have to do with how it functions in hilly areas, with the frequency of service it can give and with the air-conditioning system.
If it proves to be reliable, the intention is to use it on a wide scale. There are at present 180 buses being used in the summer for one hundred inter-urban routes and for 65 routes in the winter.
Mateu admits that the investment costs are higher than with normal buses. But there will be returns on the investment through lower running costs. "It's a question of environmental responsibility. You have to take the first step, even if the costs are slightly higher."
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