Green cog in the wheel

THE ABU DHABI Department of Transport’s decision to start a trial run of the UAE’s first electric bus in Abu Dhabi comes as a shot in the arm for initiatives to protect the environment. The battery-operated green buses, manufactured by Chinese company Ankai, will cut down diesel consumption and reduce air as well as sound pollution. Since 2008, when China hosted the Olympics, electric buses began to be used more and more in Chinese cities.

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Published: Thu 26 Sep 2013, 11:22 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 10:49 AM

Qatar this year announced plans to introduce about 2,000 electric buses for the 2022 World Cup. If Dubai’s bid to host Expo 2020 meets with the success it deserves, a new fleet of electric buses would strike just the right image of a progressive, eco-friendly country ready to use the resources at its disposal to protect the environment.

After a six-month trial run, the transport department will assess the performance of the fully electric bus and the final report is expected in 2014. While putting together a fleet of electric buses is more expensive than a fleet of diesel-powered buses, the investment would pay off in the long run as battery-operated buses cost less on maintenance and are high on safety features, like being fire and heat-resistant. Their lifespan is also said to be nearly double that of diesel buses. If the electric buses are found to be compatible with the UAE’s atmosphere and operating conditions, it can pave the way for electric taxis as well. As electric buses provide more advantages to passengers than to owners, it behoves the state to take a leading role in exploring the possibilities of introducing a product that will benefit the community.

What is especially praiseworthy is the multi-pronged search launched by the transport authorities to slash the dependence on fossil fuels. In the past, there has been a trial run to test the efficacy of buses running on compressed natural gas, another clean fuel. If these vehicles are found suitable for use on UAE roads, it will be another feather in the transport authorities’ cap. The Department of Transport has also carried out a five-phase study on alternative fuels in the bid to develop a clean and sustainable public transport system.

The initiatives come at the right time. With urbanisation growing in the UAE, more and more people are moving to the city areas. Add to it increasing industrialisation, population growth and a greater number of tourists flocking in. All this will eventually put pressure on public transport facilities. Therefore, the sooner initiatives are taken to address the need, the better.

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