The UITP Awards celebrate the most innovative and ambitious sustainable mobility projects undertaken in the last two years in cities and regions around the world.
The 2019 UITP Awards were handed out during the Global Public Transport Summit in Stockholm. We sat down with each winning team to learn more about their project and to pick their brains about innovation in the sector.
Winner of the Award ‘Outstanding achievement’: SHENZHEN BUS GROUP CO. for “Bus Fleet Electrification”
Tell us briefly about your project.
Full electrification of public transport is not simply "purchasing and using electric vehicles". Rather, it involves a systematic shift in the way both the organisation in charge and the city operate. The difficulty of balancing a large-scale operation and a high-quality service has been a common industry conundrum. It took Shenzhen Bus Group (SZBG) 10 years of practice to explore a model of three innovations, which includes collaboration with industriesand the formulation of new technologies and operational procedures. Thanks to these efforts, SZBG has become the world's first bus company to achieve full electrification.
What are some of this project’s key successes?
Firstly, a rigorous selection process for the most suitable vehicle and battery models guaranteed a smooth transition from diesel vehicles to electric vehicles, minimising the possible disruption of operations and services.
Secondly, the partnership we formed with other companies within the industry gave us the edge to upgrade our technologies as an end user. Through large-scale applications and by consistently providing big data feedback, SZBG helped mature the fully electric bus industry by pushing manufacturers to upgrade their technologies.
Thirdly, SZBG came up with a new lean management structure to manage the operations of fully electric buses and to optimise routes based on the locations of charging infrastructure.
In what way does this project bring about significant change in the public transport sector?
With the electrification of its bus fleet, SZGB achieved significant economic and environmental benefits. Electrification has contributed to reducing emissions of carbon dioxide by 0.4466 million tonnes and other urban air pollutants by 2,453 tonnes annually, transforming the image of traditional bus enterprises, often seen as poor performers in energy consumption.
By promoting technical standards and maximising the use of DC fast charging, this project sets industry benchmarks and good practice guidelines. Meanwhile, it has also propelled industrial chain integration, such as energy recycling, e-payment, on-demand mobility and self-driving vehicles, facilitating the sustainable development of companies within the industry.
Additionally, the construction cost of charging infrastructure has decreased due to the new charging pile designed by SZBG, which also reduces the amount of land required to construct such charging piles.
How does it benefit public transport users?
Bus fleet electrification has considerably improved the riding experience of passengers. Without any abnormal smell or sound, fully electric buses prevent passengers from inhaling pollutants from the exhaust, diesel in the carriage or being disturbed by the noise. Accordingly, the decreasing number of complaints indicates an increase in customer satisfaction.
As the project involves the need to revamp and optimise our routes based on the location of our new charging infrastructure, SZBG took the opportunity to re-evaluate many of our routes and optimise them based on the latest passengers’ demands.
What lessons can other organisations and authorities learn from this project?
Fleet electrification is a project that involves structural changes, with adjustments in technology, finance, operations and staff training.
Planning for construction of supporting facilities involves both hardware and software, including charging piles, maintenance workshops, battery management, safety management and an intelligent dispatching system upgrade.
In order to reduce operational risks, SZBG has created a model of divided responsibilities: while the operator focuses on bus operation, the manufacturer is responsible for maintenance with full life-cycle warranty.
Given the specific characteristic of fully electric buses, staff training should also be developed for drivers, maintenance workers, and the management team.
Tell us about any new projects.
SZGB is currently working with the World Bank Group on a case study about the Shenzhen E-Bus experience. This project aims to introduce SZBG's best practices to countries and regions around different parts of the world that are planning to complete fleet electrification.
We are also involved in the "Shenzhen Blue Sky" sustainable initiative, a project that aims at constructing more than 6,000 charging piles for taxis. It will form an advanced taxi charging system and set up an integrated dispatching system for taxis in the city.
Interested in learning more about electric buses and how to complete the transition? Register now for the UITP International Bus Conference, held in conjunction with BusWorld Europe, in Brussels from 23-25 October 2019!