The Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) launched a trial run of two Volvo 7900 electric buses on Saturday.
The two buses will shuttle on a specific path in both directions between La Mer South, King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Street and Al Sufouh Tram Station.
RTA said the two buses are fitted with the novel opportunity charging technology, which is being experimented with in Dubai for the first time.
Opportunity charging describes the case when buses are not only recharged at the depot but also at charging stations throughout the network. In this case, buses don't have to drive back to the depot to recharge.
How does it work?
“Buses are charged by a standing electric charger supplied by ABB Group at La Mer South. A night electric charger is provided at Al Quoz Bus Depot to run the night charging when the two buses are out of service,” explained RTA in a press release.
“Therefore, buses can be electrically charged either through Pantograph using a standing arm under which the bus is parked at La Mer, or cables connecting direct and alternate currents (DC and AC),” the statement added.
Moreover, each bus is equipped with modern batteries that enable it to travel 200km when fully charged.
“The length of the distance travelled is a function of several factors such as the terrain of the road, temperature, and the operation of the air conditioners. Each bus has 38 seats in addition to three foldable seats, a place for People of Determination, and an interactive display screen,” said the authority.
The launch is being coordinated with Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa), Volvo Bus Company, Meraas Real Estate, and ABB Group, a leader in the electric bus charging industry.
The trial period will continue until March 2022. “During this time, RTA will measure the operational efficiency of the two electric buses and experiment with the charging of electric buses using the charger at La Mer as well as the overnight charger at the Al Quoz Bus Depot,” the authority explained.
RTA will train drivers on driving the electric bus and familiarise them with the bus system. It will also train controllers on monitoring the electric bus and the charging unit and will work with project partners to ensure the readiness of buses, electric charging units, and the charging station.
“This unique and comprehensive electric bus charging system that uses the opportunity charging technique for operating electric buses on a specific path responds to the initiative of UAE’s leadership,” said Mattar Mohammed Al Tayer, director-general and chairman of the board of executive directors of RTA.
“It is part of RTA’s initiatives to support the use of eco-friendly vehicles and sustainable transit means. It concurs with the Dubai Government’s energy and carbon strategy aimed to make Dubai a model in the efficient use of energy and reduced carbon emissions,” he added.
“The success of deploying and operating electric buses and vehicles as part of RTA’s mass transit fleet hinges largely on the availability and reliability of the charging technology, and whether it supports the continuous operation of buses without stopping or having to return to the charging stations,” said Al Tayer.
The director-general said RTA intends to add more electric buses to the RTA fleet in future to ensure the operation of safe, smooth, and sustainable mass transit means.
RTA has managed to convert 50 per cent of the total Dubai Taxi fleet into environmentally-friendly hybrid vehicles in 2020. It intends to convert the entire taxi fleet to hybrid and electric vehicles by 2027. In December 2019, it launched the trial run of the first hydrogen taxi in the Middle East and deployed it as a limo service at the Dubai International Airport.
Encouraging green mobility
Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, vice-chairman of the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy and managing director and CEO of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa), commended RTA's project to operate two electric buses using innovative fast-changing technologies.
“Dubai’s Green Mobility Initiative 2030 aims to stimulate the use of sustainable transit means and align them with the strategic goals of the emirate in terms of sustainability, air quality and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.
“This particularly fits with the spread of green charging stations of Dewa, which now exceed 300 stations offering 530 charging points across Dubai,” said Saeed Al Tayer.
Improved mobility experience
Meanwhile, Manish Sahi, the vice-president of Volvo Bus Corporation, said: “We are excited about the possibilities electric buses will open up for cities like Dubai. Without emissions and noise, you can even build bus stops indoors.
“This trial is a strong step forward towards achieving Dubai’s goal of being the world's happiest city. We are excited to be RTA's partner in providing sustainable and environmentally friendly public transportation,” added Sahi.
Frank Muehlon, president of ABB’s E-mobility Division, said: “We’ve witnessed a great example of private-public partnerships at RTA electric Bus Project, where it brought together key stakeholders from the Transport, Utility and Automotive industries.”
Ramez Hamdan, managing director of Al Futtaim Auto and Machinery Company (FAMCO), said: “We are excited to be part of this highly strategic initiative and we have worked closely with our partners at (RTA) to provide them with the optimal solution for their strategic vision and we have partnered with the Volvo Bus Corporation to ensure our teams deliver the highest service, maintenance, response and support levels to our valued customer, the RTA.”
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