News April 6, 2020

Virtual workshop showcases how to promote bus electrification in Latin America

ZEB Santiago
  • DATE 25-26 March
  • LOCATION Virtually

Promoting transport electrification in Latin America through a Virtual Zero Emissions Bus Workshop 

Event Date 25 March 2020 to 26 March 2020

The challenges that the world is facing due to climate change have highlighted the need to transition to sustainable models of mass transport that provide more favorable living conditions for cities. Zero emission buses offer a cleaner alternative that improves the quality of life of citizens and provides a better option for travel. The implementation of electric bus systems as a sustainable mode of transportation has become an increasingly viable option for cities. Although electric buses have higher initial costs, their maintenance and operating costs are lower.  

In many Latin American cities, there is great potential to implement zero-emission bus systems, where a large portion of the greenhouse gases generated come from the transport sector. In addition to contributing to climate change, local pollution causes negative impacts on health, generating cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, as well as on local economic development. For this reason, on March 25 and 26, the "Zero Emission Bus Workshop" was held, organized by the C40 teams from the Financing Sustainable Cities Initiative (FSCI), the C40 Cities Finance Facility (CFF) and the Zero Emission Bus Rapid-deployment Accelerator (ZEBRA) projects.  

The workshop was originally planned to be held in the city of Santiago de Chile, a pioneer in the electrification of public transport. However, due to the global crisis caused by the spread of COVID-19, the Workshop was successfully executed virtually (available here). Over the two days, the Workshop was attended by 146 individuals from various countries and cities in the Latin American region, as well as from different sectors interested in transport electrification.  

You can watch the recording of the webinar or read the presentations here (in Spanish).

If electric buses can be used for these corridors of high demand, with gradients, we can continue to integrate them. The initial results have been excellent.
Hector Moya Metbus

After initial remarks by Manuel Olivera, C40 Regional Director for Latin America, Heather Goodale from the UK Government and Daniel Mejia from the P4G initiative, the workshop started with a presentation by C40 on the Latin American electric bus market landscape. 

This was followed by a presentation by Héctor Moya of Metbus (one of the private companies operating Trans Santiago), who offered the perspective of a private operator. Moya told of how the deployment of zero emission buses in the city was carried out. In 2016, there was a lot of talk about Euro VI and hybrid bus technology, but very little about electric buses. However, in 2017 a decision was made to follow China's example and adopt electric bus technology with two buses serving as pilots so people could become familiar with the technology. These two test buses have already completed three years of operation and in 2018, the city incorporated 285 buses for the Grecia corridor, crossing the city from east to west, placing them in a situation of greater demand.  

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After a year of operation, the results have been undeniably positive:

The Zero Emission Bus Virtual Workshop also offered a variety of perspectives on best practices for the implementation of electric buses, as well as the great potential for their deployment in Latin America. Throughout the two days the following topics were presented:  

  • Zero Emission Bus Manufacturers, with interventions from the companies BYD, Foton (Kaufmann) and Sunwin. 
  • Accelerating a market transition in Latin America, where Sylvia Warren from the company Dalberg presented the innovative business models that exist for the deployment of zero emission buses.  
  • The separation of ownership of assets for the deployment of zero emission buses, presented by Transfondo. 
  • The role of development finance institutions, with an intervention of the International Finance Cooperation (IFC) on financing conditions, risk sharing and other measures for the deployment of zero emission buses.  
  • The Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), presented by the CFF on the importance of TCO calculation for the project in Mexico City.  
  • The role of electric companies in promoting the deployment of zero emission buses, a panel presentation moderated by the Mario Molina Center in Chile with interventions by Engie and Enel X.

Relevant Resources:  

  1. Accelerating a market transition in Latin America - New business models for electric bus deployment 
  1. Electrifying Bus Routes: Insights from Mexico City's Eje 8 Sur and the respective technical assistance reports
  1. Electric Buses in Cities: Driving Toward Cleaner Air and Lower CO2  
  1. How to shift your bus fleet to zero emission by procuring only electric buses 
  1. Climate and air pollutant emissions benefits of bus technology options in São Paulo