More and more cities around the world are developing and implementing clean bus projects, as concerns over air pollution and climate change and the increasing availability of hybrid and electric bus technologies make this shift all but inevitable. Mexico City is acting as a pioneer for this transformation, as its electric bus project on Eje 8 Sur, supported by the C40 Cities Finance Facility (CFF), demonstrates, and the city is working to ensure other cities in Mexico and Latin America are learning from its achievements and objectives.
A workshop on October 11th-12th aimed to inspire the shift to electric buses at the national, state, and municipal level in Mexico. Held on the side-lines of the World Resources Institute’s International Congress of Cities and Transport, the workshop was attended by cities and states in Mexico, including Aguascalientes, Colima, Tijuana, Mérida, Ciudad Juárez, Morelos, Sinaloa, Nuevo Léon, and Mexico City. Transport officials from Madrid, Santiago de Chile, Medellín, London and Warsaw also contributed with their experiences.
The C40 Cities Finance Facility is supporting Mexico City by developing the necessary feasibility studies for a new zero-emissions bus corridor project, which will include a fleet of electric buses and bicycle lanes alongside it. The new bus corridor on Eje 8 Sur will be 22km long and serve an estimated 160,000 daily trips, providing connections with five Metro lines and one Metrobus Bus Rapid Transit line. It will be the first e-bus project of this scale to be implemented in Latin America.
The workshop, organised in partnership with the World Resources Institute, provided a snapshot of how cities can plan and implement an electric bus project, through technical presentations on the different technologies and business models, and participatory sessions on existing barriers and potential solutions. The experience of Mexico City with the Eje 8 project was pivotal in guiding the discussions about how other cities in Mexico can replicate similar e-bus projects. Laura Ballesteros, Under-Secretary of Planning at the Department for Transport of Mexico City (SEMOVI), officially opened the event, underlining the importance of mainstreaming resilience in transport planning, as the recent, tragic earthquake in the city demonstrated.
Many cities in Mexico – and in Latin America more generally – currently face similar issues around transportation. Mass transit systems such as Bus Rapid Transport and metros are being developed around the country, but are being hampered by a lack of formalisation of transport operators, insufficient political will and related, inconsistent incentives, resistance to new technologies, fragmented governance and inefficient subsidies. WRI has been supporting the federal government’s PROTRAM, created in 2009, a national programme assisting Mexican cities in developing public transportation projects through grants and institutional backing. Cities in Mexico are increasingly taking advantage of the opportunities generated by the transition to more sustainable forms of transport, such as lower congestion, cleaner air and higher quality of life.
Leading bus manufacturers are also coming to the aid of cities and assisting them in retrofitting their bus fleets. In September 2017, BYD, Cummins, Scania and Volvo committed to help cities access low-emission bus technologies in 20 megacities around the world, including Mexico City. A number of these manufacturers presented during the workshop on their latest additions to their portfolio and on recent developments in the Mexican and Latin American markets.
Cities signed up to the Clean Bus Declaration
Buses that cities will purchase by 2020
City officials from Madrid, London and Warsaw shared their experience with planning, purchasing and operating clean bus fleets. All three cities are in the process of replacing older diesel buses with newer hybrid and electric vehicles. In the case of Warsaw, the city has achieved the objectives in the Clean Bus Declaration 3 years ahead of schedule. London’s Zero Emissions Roadmap outlines how diesel buses will phased out by 2037. The workshop concluded with a site visit on one of Mexico City’s pilot electric buses through Eje Central – one of few remaining trolleybus corridors in Mexico City – and to the Zocalo, where the city is trialling electric taxis to encourage a comprehensive shift to electric mobility.
The participation of mid-size cities in the workshop represented a first for C40, a network of megacities. This focus is expected to continue and to increase as the CFF scales up its operations, especially through knowledge-sharing activities. A similar workshop was held in Cali on October 18-20 around cycling, transit-oriented development and how to finance sustainable mobility projects.