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MyCiTi service to go green with electric-powered buses and new job opportunities

The City of Cape Town has awarded the tender for the procurement of battery-powered electric buses and ancillary equipment for the MyCiTi service to BYD SA Company. Apart from lowering our carbon emissions, local residents will also benefit from this contract through job opportunities as the buses will be assembled locally and the bus bodies will in part be manufactured locally.

Patricia De Lille says, “Since its inception in May 2010, the MyCiTi service has significantly improved the quality of life of our residents, providing access to affordable, decent and safe public transport. 

More than 53 million passenger journeys have been recorded on the MyCiTi service to date, with a more than 1, 7 million passenger journeys for the month of September 2016 alone. 

As we extend the footprint of the MyCiTi service across the city, we also have the responsibility to lower our carbon emissions and the impact of pollution on the urban environment. 

As such the City has proceeded with a pilot project to expand our current fleet of diesel buses with 10 electric vehicles.

A tender for the procurement of a fleet of low-floor electric buses was advertised in February 2016 and awarded last month.

The procurement of the electric buses affirms our commitment made at COP21 in Paris where I committed to ensure that the City of Cape Town takes decisive action and pursues ambitious climate action projects that are not only beneficial to residents but most importantly, the environment.

Our Energy2040 goals include a shift from private to public transport, with increased access to public transport, reduced travel time, and the use of more efficient vehicles with higher occupancy levels. 

Alternative fuel for public transport is no longer a choice, but a prerequisite.

We are pleased to announce the acquisition of electric buses ahead of International Climate Day of Action tomorrow, 24 October. 

As a member of the C40 Cities, we have committed to working with other member cities to take action to address climate change and build low-carbon, resource-efficient cities. 

One of the exciting conditions of this contract is that the electric buses will be assembled locally in Blackheath and that the manufacture of the bus bodies is required to meet minimum local content and production values. 

The contractor will be employing local staff and will have to source some of the bus components from local suppliers.

This will provide local residents with job opportunities and the chance to learn new skills as this would be the first time that electric buses are manufactured and assembled in Cape Town. 

We are excited about the prospect of exposing our local labour to new technology on the factory floor, in particular given the fact that more and more cities are becoming conscious of our collective duty to explore cleaner energy alternatives. 

The purpose of this pilot project is to evaluate the benefits of battery-powered electric buses as an alternative fuel option for the MyCiTi bus fleet which is to grow significantly over the next decade. 

Inclusive of this evaluation is the overall lifecycle cost – the procurement, operations and maintenance – of the electric buses, which is to inform future fleet selections.

Apart from the buses, BYD SA is required to provide the City with ancillary components such as the charging stations for the buses and data management systems, as well as provide spare parts, technical support and training for the bus drivers and mechanical staff, fleet maintenance services, and replacement of the energy storage system (battery) when required.

The tender specifies that the electric bus should be able to travel at least 250 km in traffic before the batteries need recharging.

Apart from electric buses being eco-friendly, a green fleet holds numerous other advantages.

For example, the operational cost of electric buses is reported to be significantly lower – not only in terms of fuel, but also in relation to maintenance as there are fewer engine parts to service. 

Electric bus motors generate less heat than traditional diesel engines, there is much less noise, and it is a smoother drive for passengers and bus drivers alike.

The City will also be offsetting the electricity requirements of the electric buses with solar photovoltaic technology.

Adding on to the abovementioned benefits are the carbon credits that the City will earn for operating a green fleet.

As we reduce our carbon footprint, Transport for Cape Town will earn carbon credits which the City will be able to sell on the international market through mechanisms provided to signatories of the Kyoto Protocol as well as on local emerging markets as a result of the current SA Carbon Tax Act and the carbon offset regulations.

Approximately 1 080 tonnes of CO2e per annum will be avoided as a result of this project and the potential revenue from selling the credits associated with these emission reductions will make this investment worth our while.

The value of the contract is R126 million, which includes provision for the buses, ancillary equipment, services and training, and will be partly offset by the income generated from selling our carbon credits. 

If all goes as planned, the MyCiTi service will start taking delivery of the buses in June 2017. 

With that, Cape Town will be the first municipality in the country to benefit from the use of electricity as an alternative fuel technology for its bus fleet. 

We are really looking forward to this day.”

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