Feasibility of Introducing Hybrid Buses in Bus Rapid Transit Systems in Latin America: The Case of Transmilenio Bogota
Abstract: Bus rapid transit (BRT) systems have been recognized around the world by combining the advantages of urban rail transit systems with the flexibility and low cost of conventional bus systems. Although its introduction in different cities has helped to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality, one of the major criticisms for these systems is that buses are usually powered by diesel, which is a pollutant and non-renewable energy source. Under this scenario, the feasibility to introduce hybrid electric buses for BRT systems in Latin America is evaluated, finding that hybrid buses have proven benefits such as 20-45% in fuel savings and reductions of up to 90% for some local air pollutants with respect to conventional diesel buses. However, there are some limitations for its introduction such as: the commercial unavailability of hybrid articulated buses, the higher life cycle cost of this technology and the lack of test data to determine if the fuel savings would be affected by operating at higher average speeds. Finally, a set of policies are suggested to promote introduction of hybrid buses in Bogota, these include: soft loans, specific policies for final disposal of buses, the introduction of regulatory standards to promote clean technologies and the establishment of a regulatory framework to monetize environmental impacts from propulsion systems for buses.
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