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First Electric City Bus to Roll into the capital, Piloting in a New Era of Sustainable Transportation

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Phurpa Wangmo

In a groundbreaking move towards sustainable transportation, the first electric city bus is set to grace the streets of the capital, ushering in a new era of eco-friendly commuting.

The Bhutan City Bus Service, under Thimphu Thromde, proudly introduces its inaugural electric city bus, a remarkable achievement in their ongoing commitment to carbon neutrality. With its official launch scheduled for next month, this cutting-edge vehicle is poised to revolutionize public transportation within the city, offering a range of advanced features and setting a precedent for sustainable mobility.

The 100 percent electric bus is a showcase of remarkable innovations. Equipped with an automatic wheelchair ramp, semi-low floor, and air suspension, it prioritizes optimal comfort and accessibility for passengers. Notably, the bus boasts an auto-adjustable driver’s seat, along with air conditioning, heating, and closed-circuit television (CCTV) systems, ensuring passenger safety and convenience.

Pasang Tshering, the Officiating Managing Director of City Bus service, expressed his enthusiasm for the electrification of the city’s public transportation system. “We have one 30KW slow charger installed at our office, along with two high-speed chargers of 160KW each, which will be stationed at Dangrina and Ngabiphu Terminal,” he stated. These charging facilities are expected to adequately support a fleet of 8 to 10 electric buses.

Despite the substantial investment exceeding Ngultrum 10 million required for the introduction of the pioneering electric city bus, Pasang confirmed that the government has been actively subsidizing the operations of the city bus since its inception. Plans are already underway to expand the electric bus fleet, pending a comprehensive assessment of the vehicle’s performance.

With a range of approximately 120 kilometers per charge, the electric city bus holds significant potential for reducing carbon emissions and promoting eco-friendly transportation solutions within the capital city.

Ugyen Norbu, Executive Engineer from the Department of Surface Transport revealed plans for future endeavors in inter-district electric transport facilities, encompassing public transport, trade vehicles, and light vehicles. While currently focused on urban transport, they have submitted proposals to their donors and are actively working on two initiatives. Ugyen expressed optimism and anticipated positive feedback and support from their donor partners, particularly the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, Global Environment Facility (GEF), and Japan Sustainability Project.

Highlighting the rigorous training undergone by their staff members, Pasang emphasized, “Prior to the arrival of the charger and bus, we underwent extensive virtual training sessions focused on familiarizing ourselves with the bus’s features and the charging infrastructure.” Subsequent hands-on training, following the successful installation of the charger and bus, has ensured that the team is well-prepared for the highly-anticipated launch.

While the ambitious plan to introduce more electric buses is in the pipeline, Pasang emphasized that the decision will be based on the performance of the initial bus procured through the UNIDO Project. The delay in the installation of transformers at the charging stations in Dechencholing and Ngagiphu has caused minor setbacks which are still under construction however, it is expected to meet the dateline.

Pasang, along with the entire management of City Bus Service, extends heartfelt gratitude to the generous donors who have contributed to the project through UNIDO. As Thimphu eagerly counts down to the much-anticipated launch of its first electric city bus, the city stands poised to take a significant leap towards a greener future, inspiring sustainable transportation initiatives far and wide.

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