Electric vehicles contribute to sustainable cities of the future
ElectriCity is a cooperative venture that’s not just about how its various participants have collaborated to make future transport independent of fossil fuels. It's also a story about how the transition to sustainable transport creates more attractive urban environments.
The ElectriCity collaboration involves a wide range of participants in research, industry and the public authority sector. They have teamed up to develop, demonstrate and evaluate solutions for sustainable, electrified transport in Gothenburg and other cities. Alongside solutions that contribute to reduced greenhouse gas emissions, the project has also investigated the new conditions for living and residing in the city that may result from the decrease in the noise and exhaust gases from vehicles.
In several ways - this has led to a more attractive urban landscape.
Support from the Swedish Energy Agency gave the courage to act
The venture was launched in spring 2013 when Volvo Buses was awarded a research grant by the Swedish Energy Agency to develop electric buses and plug-in hybrids, with the associated charging infrastructure for the city, in collaboration with Göteborgs Energi.
– The Swedish Energy Agency's support was crucial to encouraging the city to participate in the project. The support gave us the courage to face the challenge. It also meant a lot to our ability to coordinate the broad spectrum of participants in the collaboration, says Malin Andersson, Head of Department at the Traffic Office in Gothenburg.
In 2015, the investment was scaled up, an indoor bus station was erected and a number of electric buses successfully entered into service on route 55 through central Gothenburg, and later also on route 16.
Results were both predictable and less predictable:
– The transition to electrified bus services creates a better urban environment and more attractive public transport. But something we were surprised by was that the bus drivers reported a significant improvement in their work environment. We also realised that many passengers preferred to wait for the next bus if it meant they could ride in one of these quiet electric buses, says Malin Andersson.
Electric vehicles reach more and disturb fewer
In 2017, with the support of the Swedish Energy Agency, the efforts were again expanded. Now the collaboration included electrified articulated buses, distribution vehicles and refuse collection trucks.
It proved to have a number of positive synergies:
– Since electric vehicles are quiet they can be driven in areas with requirements for noise emissions that would otherwise have prevented, for example, public transport or transport at night, says Peter Engdahl, Head of Unit at the Swedish Energy Agency.
With quiet trucks on the roads, a larger proportion of transport can be scheduled for the night – which can contribute to less traffic during the day and greater resource efficiency.
The transition to more electric vehicles in public transport also creates the conditions for visible and tangible changes in the urban landscape.
– With electric buses we also have other options - driving at other times and in other places, such as with our indoor bus station. It's not the technology that creates barriers here, the challenge lies in understanding our legal obligations when we investigate propositions such as constructing indoor bus stations at hospital entrances, for example, says Peter Lindgren, coordinator for Electricity at the Traffic Office in Gothenburg.
Thank you letters from residents
From the beginning, the plan was for the collaboration to continue to 2018, but there is no longer a definitive time limit for how long the project will continue. Now the plan is for the ElectriCity platform to continue to develop and inspire urban development in Gothenburg and other regions during the 2020s.
Next year, Västtrafik will start to roll out almost a further 200 electric buses that have been procured during the past year, for which the city's citizens are grateful.
– We receive letters of thanks from Gothenburg citizens who really appreciate these quiet vehicles. We have old wooden residential buildings on steep slopes where we have difficulty to implement noise protection measures in an effective way. Thanks to new quiet electric vehicles, nearby residents can have access public transport without the noise, says Malin Andersson.