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Golden Arrow launches South Africa’s first electric-powered bus

Transport and public works minister Daylin Mitchell and Golden Arrow Bus Services (Gabs) have launched South Africa’s first electric bus.

As of July 2021, two electric buses have been incorporated into Golden Arrow’s day-to-day operations, carrying passengers between Retreat and Cape Town.

Gabs started its renewable energy journey in 2017 with the pilot installation of two solar plants of 25kWp each. According to a statement, the results were encouraging and ultimately led to two of its facilities being declared carbon neutral in 2020.

Given the success of projects to date, Golden Arrow decided to take on its next project – testing an electric bus. The company partnered with bus manufacturer BYD and uYilo to test two 100% electric buses for a 12-month period.

“For the first few months, we tested the buses in a range of circumstances without passengers. The aim was to get to know exactly how these vehicles perform before incorporating them into our operations,” said Golden Arrow engineer Gideon Neethling in a statement.

Neethling further said that there is much to be learned about the new bus including electricity usage under different conditions, charge time between trips, possible scheduling challenges as a result of charge times, maintenance needs, battery degradation and other general operational challenges compared to the currently used internal combustion engine.

“The narrative around safety on Golden Arrow busses is very different. After taking a ride in this bus, I am confident passengers will feel safe during their journey,” said Minister Mitchell.

Golden Arrow’s trailblazing transport solutions include the testing of free wi-fi on buses, an electronic smartcard fare system and now, the first electric bus to operate in active service in South Africa.

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