RTA launches trial operation of electric buses

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has launched a trial run of two electric buses, branded Volvo 7900.

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. The launch is coordinated with Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), Volvo Bus Company, Meraas Real Estate, and ABB Group, leader in the electric bus charging industry. The step reflects the RTA’s efforts to provide sustainable and environmentally friendly mass transit means.

The two buses are fitted with Opportunity Charging technology, which is experimented with for the first time in Dubai. A standing electric charger is supplied by ABB Group Buses at La Mer South to charge the buses. Al Quoz Bus Depot provides a night electric charger to run the night charging when the two buses are out of service. 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).

Each bus is equipped with modern batteries that enable it to travel 200 km when fully charged. The length of the distance travelled depends on several factors such as the terrain, temperature, and the operation of air conditioners. Each bus has 38 seats in addition to three foldable seats, a place for People of Determination, and an interactive display screen.

During the trial period, which will continue until March 2022, the 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 and the overnight charger at the Al Quoz Bus Depot. It will train drivers on the electric bus and familiarise them with the bus system. It will also train controllers on monitoring the bus and the charging unit. The RTA will work with project partners to ensure the readiness of buses, 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 His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, themed “Green Economy for Sustainable Development. 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,” said Mattar Mohammed Al Tayer, Director-General, Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of the Roads and Transport Authority.

“The project is a unique example of integrated efforts of government departments as well as Public-Private Partnership (PPP). It illustrates the integrated efforts of RTA, DEWA, Volvo Bus Co, Meraas Real Estate and ABB Group aimed to promote sustainable transport in Dubai and reduce carbon emissions of the transport sector,” he noted.

“The success of deploying and operating electric buses and vehicles as part of the 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.

“The RTA attaches top priority to environmental conservation and power-saving policies and sets safety and environmental sustainability as one of its strategic goals. It, therefore, seeks to keep pace with the latest technologies of manufacturing buses, electric batteries, and various charging systems. It underscores the intention to add electric buses to the fleet to ensure the operation of safe, smooth, and sustainable mass transit means. It is recalled that the RTA had launched a series of projects and initiatives to leverage sustainable transport including the trial run of electric buses and the operation of hydrogen or water-powered taxis,” Al Tayer concluded.

Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, Vice Chairman of the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy, Managing Director and CEO of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), praised the RTA’s efforts to promote the use of environmentally friendly mobility means. He also commended the RTA’s project to operate two electric buses using innovative fast-changing technologies.

“Government departments are keen to make concerted efforts toward realizing the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, to transform Dubai into the smartest and happiest city in the world besides cementing the profile of the emirate as a global destination of green economy and sustainable development. 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 noted.

“The incentives package launched by the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy of which DEWA is part has encouraged green mobility and increased the number of electric cars in Dubai. This particularly fits with the spread of green charging stations of DEWA, which now exceed 300 stations offering 530 charging points across Dubai,” Al Tayer said in conclusion.

Manish Sahi, Vice President, Volvo Bus Corporation, stated, “This trial of Volvo Electric buses is a coming together of RTA Dubai; Volvo Buses; ABB, and our exclusive local partner for Volvo Buses in Dubai, Al Futtaim Auto and Machinery Company (FAMCO). 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.

“Volvo Electric buses will enhance travelling experience not only for passengers but also drivers and other road users, making cities more attractive for their inhabitants,” he added.

Frank Muehlon, President of ABB’s E-mobility Division said, “We have 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 & Machinery Company, stated, “We are excited to be part of this highly strategic initiative. We have worked closely with our partners at the 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.”

The RTA converted 50 percent 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. (WAM) 


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