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Chinese automotive manufacturer BYD Motors, has been selected as the preferred bidder to supply a fleet of electric battery-operated buses to the City of Cape Town.

With efforts to reduce greenhouse gases and seek out clean power alternatives, the MyCiTi Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system will be adding 11 electric buses to its fleet.

According to the motor firm, Cape Town aims to become the first city on the African continent to use electric buses for public transport.

Electric buses service route

The city’s transport administration will initially use the easy access 12-metre-long buses as an express service on a 35 to 40-kilometre route between (Khayelitsha and Mitchell’s Plain) the city’s central business district and the Metro South East region.

AD Huang, general manager of BYD Middle East and Africa Auto Sales Division, said: “Electric buses generate less noise than those with traditional diesel engines and provide a smoother ride for passengers and bus drivers.

“These clean-running buses will help provide Cape Town’s residents with a more sustainable public transport system while assisting the country in achieving its environmental ideals.”

Huang added: “Cape Town’s deployment of electric buses is the first showcase of a clean and sustainable transport system in Africa, the success of this project will encourage other African cities to develop their own green public transport projects.”

Cape Town aims to reduce carbon emissions through a range of policies that affect households, businesses, the city’s transport system and electricity generation, the firm said in a statement.

The City's “Energy 2040 Strategy” outlines a plan to increase transport efficiency so that carbon emission targets are reduced by 3.2% by 2020. Transport accounts for 34% of carbon output in this city of 3.8 million people.

“BYD could potentially supply five more single deck electric buses and five additional double decker electric buses, depending on the city government’s approval,” Huang said.

The bus can also drive for more than 250 kilometres – even in heavy city traffic – on a single charge.

Tender issued

In January this year, Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille announced the City's plans to issue a tender for the procurement of electric buses for the city’s MyCiTi bus service.

At the time she said: “As we extend the footprint of the MyCiTi service across the city, we also have a responsibility to lower our carbon emissions and the impact of pollution on the urban environment."

She explained: “Since its inception in May 2010, the MyCiTi service has significantly improved the quality of life of our residents through access to affordable, decent and safe public transport.”

Carbon emissions: Paris Agreement

This initiative directly supports the City’s commitment to the Paris Pledge for Action at COP21 and as member of the C40 Cities to take progressive action and lead the way in reducing energy consumption and emissions.

The mayor noted at the time: “The City’s Energy 2040 Strategy sets carbon targets and projects like this will help to ensure that we reach them. Transport for Cape Town has researched and is exploring the most appropriate mechanism for the procurement of solar technology to offset the energy required for the electric bus fleet, thereby further reducing emissions. This is in addition to 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 to developed countries who are signatories to the Kyoto Protocol. This will generate much-needed revenue for the City and result in public transport benefits for residents, making this investment even more worth our while.”