As previously recently reported, the ZVB is expecting to introduce its first e-bus services this autumn. Also as previously reported, it is not a matter of simply acquiring the bus, as Cyrill Weber, the CEO of the company, said, not least because of necessity of re-training the drivers and staff who are to maintain it, and the setting-up of facilities to re-charge it.
André Roth, who is head of the technology department at ZVB, and also a member of the board, explained how the battery and energy management equipment is actually on the roof of the e-bus, all so different from buses which run on diesel. This means, of course, that the mechanics involved will be spending a lot of time on the roof, not that this just means mechanics using a ladder to get up there, appropriate safety measures such as safety belts have to be put in place for them, too.
However, it has been decided not to go ahead with a special area with lift and crane on the current premises, as this would mean costs of some CHF 150,000. Instead they are waiting until the new maintenance depot is operational.
As readers may have seen, a hybrid bus, which Roth described as having “in-between technology”, is already in service on the canton’s roads, but manufacturers of such buses are now looking to produce e-buses, this eCitaro model by Mercedes being the first such e-bus to join the ZVB’s fleet of 120 vehicles.
Roth also mentioned that, at CHF 700,000, these e-buses cost almost twice as much as conventional diesel buses, the initial investment costs, for example for the setting-up of charging stations, the alterations needed for maintenance, not to mention staff re-training, being initially very high, too. He mentioned how full re-charging of the batteries powering the buses can be done in two hours during the working day, though this costs more than re-charging it overnight at lower energy prices. Of note, too, is that the range of these e-buses is affected by the way the driver handles them, and by the outside temperature, the batteries operating at their greatest efficiency at 20°C. As to when, on which routes, and for how long, these e-buses will be in operation, is not yet known. “We will have to see how we get on with the new technology,” admitted Roth, adding that, naturally, the lack of emissions and noise were two great advantages.
Of course, trolley buses, which still operate in a number of Swiss cities such as Zurich and Lucerne, are also e-buses, this latter city aiming to operate e-buses only by 2040, though, unlike in Zug, the infrastructure for trolley buses is already in place there.
This article is based one by Andrea Muff.