The City seeks to accelerate its plans for Ecological transport. Next Thursday it will take to the venue a project to define the pilot tests of groups that use renewable energy sources, three years after the first experiments. One more step towards a goal that looms ever more ambitious.
Is that rechange a fleet of 8,500 buses it is always a challenge, but even more so in a pandemic. The original proposal of Sergio Abrevaya (GEN), one of the most active legislators on the subject, was that the fuel matrix of all the units of the City it will switch to environmentally friendly energies by 2029 at the latest.
The Buenos Aires Executive stated that, before setting such a goal, it was necessary to extend the pilot tests of this type of vehicle, which in the current Transit and Transportation Code last only 90 days, extendable for another 90. For this reason, another project was presented two weeks ago, which modifies that code and sets the duration of these evaluations at two years, with the option of extending them a year more.
The text includes electric, hybrid or hydrogen vehicles, both passenger transport and light cargo. It has already been approved in the Legislature’s Transit and Transportation Commission and is expected to be dealt with on the premises in the next session, on Thursday 8.
A 132 biodiesel bus that circulated in the City at the end of 2018. File photo
Why two or three years of pilot testing? From the Buenos Aires government they explain that this is the time required to determine which models work best, where to locate the loading points and how the units support the actual number of passengers and the traffic according to schedules, routes and season of the year. It will also allow you to know if you have to modify or adapt existing services, or create new ones.
“If approved, this project will give you legal framework for evidence, and security to the areas and companies that invest in these units -explains Abrevaya-. It also allows us legislators in particular to know how the evaluations are being carried out and what results are being reached ”.
The project seeks to give a legal framework to the pilot tests of the groups that are promoted with environmentally friendly fuels. Stock Photo
The first tests, in 2018
Although more extensive evaluations would only now be regulated, in March 2018 one of electric buses, vehicles that do not pollute or make noise, and whose maintenance is cheaper. The tests ran from December 2019 to December 2020.
They would be eight Chinese units, which would be divided into four lines selected by the national and Buenos Aires governments: 12, 34, 39 and 59. The idea was to test the vehicles for a year and, if successful, continue adding interns. But that goal was never met.
In fact, only two electric buses came to operate: those of line 59, granted as a loan by the Colcar company. The rest did not arrive due to complications to import them, they indicate from the Ministry of Transportation and Public Works of the City.
Both units, of the Chinese brand Yutong, were supplied every day at the head of the line in Barracas, at Luna 1297. 260 kilometers per day of travel they demanded of each one between two and a half hours and three hours of charge.
Today those two collectives are saved: They cannot circulate, since the regulation that authorized the pilot tests in the previous national administration was not renewed by the current one, according to sources in the sector.
In addition to this pilot test, there were two other evaluations related to renewable energies in Buenos Aires territory. One included two buses powered by CNG, which circulated on lines 50 and 132. The other included two biofuel buses, one also on 132 and the other on 91.
In December 2018, collectives were presented to biodiesel in the City. The experience was not continued.
A road with obstacles
“Electric vehicles they are the future, but today we are limited by financing problems and, above all, the price: they cost three times what a common unit comes out”, Observes Daniel Millaci, from the Business Chamber of Passenger Transportation (CEAP). The entity represents more than half of the AMBA bus lines.
That is why the entrepreneur suggests that there is a state contribution, “Because this is a benefit not only for group companies but also for citizens.” Vehicles that use renewable energy are not produced in Argentina. Only some components are manufactured. And importing from China or Russia requires a huge investment if the public fleet is replaced on a large scale.
The Dancerbus, an electric bus made from recycled bottles that is tested in Lithuania. In Buenos Aires ecological buses have been tested for a couple of years. Stock Photo
“We are analyzing other types of solutions, such as retrofitting: change the engine to a diesel vehicle and put an electric. We still have to continue exploring the different possibilities, ”says Clara Sanguinetti, general director of Design and Implementation of the City, who presented the project in the Legislature.
Warnings are also issued from the academy. The engineer and teacher Gabriel Blanco, former national director of Climate Change in the Ministry of the Environment, celebrates the initiative but remarks that “before changing the fleet of groups, progress should be made with non-motorized mobility projects, such as the City of 15 Minutes, centers where all services are accessed at that time ”.
For Blanco, the choice of technology is another key point: “If you choose a hybrid, you don’t get out of the oil. I would go for electric, but before you have to see how that energy will be generated, because if it is obtained from fossil fuels, I don’t know what the fun is. On the other hand, lithium batteries are used, an element whose exploitation is wreaking havoc in the Puna ”, highlights the specialist.
An electric micro in Montevideo, Uruguay.
“Who is going to produce the electricity? If it is going to be the Costanera plant, which runs on fuel oil, it will be more polluted than the groups do, because that is a fossil fuel ”. The question comes from Luis Rodríguez, president of Todo Bus, a company that built the bodywork of two London buses that run on renewable energy.
While progress is being made little by little with ecological public transport, there is still a long way to go for these plans to have a wide scale. How to produce energy, how to obtain the technology and how to take it to the streets are some of the stops on that long journey.