Barcelona will soon be the latest city to add a large number of electric buses to its fleet, replacing aging diesel buses in the process.

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is granting a EUR 73.5 million loan ($81.8 million) to the city’s public transport operator, Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona (TMB). TMB will be replacing diesel and first-generation compressed natural gas buses with more than 250 new buses.

Not all of the buses will be electric, however. Of the 254 “new, safer, less polluting and more modern vehicles” to be put into service, 116 will be electric. The remainder of the order will be made up of hybrid and new compressed natural gas buses. Hybrids will replace 20 diesel double-decker buses.

The new buses will come in three waves: 105 buses in late 2019, 75 more in 2020, and the final 74 buses should arrive by 2021. The EIB notes the new buses will help reduce pollution in the city as the service continues to become more popular:

This will enable TMB to accelerate the transition to a zero-emission bus network and to improve service quality and reliability. In addition to improving air quality, the goal is to increase demand for this service to cut private transport use. Barcelona’s public city buses have seen a 17% increase in use over the last six years – transporting 203 million people in 2018 – a figure that is still growing.

Despite the upcoming addition of hybrids and CNG buses to the fleet, TMB Chief Executive Officer Enric Cañas said the renew of Barcelona’s fleet is “very much focused on electrification,” continuing:

“The 116 fully electric buses to be introduced by 2021 will enable us to convert entire lines on our main network – such as the H16 horizontal line and the V11, V13 and V15 vertical lines, as well as some local lines – to zero emissions. Electric transport involves higher initial investment costs in terms of both vehicles and infrastructure, meaning that appropriate financing from public transport authorities and financial institutions is vital.”

Considering this focus, it’s possible that TMB sees the hybrid and CNG buses as a sort of stopgap measure while the electric infrastructure is established.

In neighboring France, Paris announced last month it would be replacing diesel buses with 800 new electric buses.


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