The City of Cape Town is sets to begin rolling out the first set of electric MyCiti buses across the metro.

Almost a year ago to this day, the city announced plans to deploy electric buses on the roads of the Mother City in an effort to reduce carbon emissions and be the first municipality in the country to achieve this.

A tender for the project was announced in February this year and the city has announced that Build Your Dreams, a Chinese electric car and rechargeable battery manufacturer, with a branch is South Africa, has been awarded the tender, valued at R126 million.

The electric buses project will kick off with 10 new vehicles and the tender includes the provision of buses, ancillary equipment, services and training.

“The procurement of the electric buses affirms our commitment made at COP21 in Paris where I committed to ensure that the City of Cape Town takes decisive action and pursues ambitious climate action projects that are not only beneficial to residents but most importantly, the environment,” Cape Town Mayor, Patricia De Lille, said in a statement.

The purpose of the pilot project is to evaluate the benefits of battery-powered electric buses as an alternative fuel option for the MyCiTi bus fleet which is to grow significantly over the next decade.

Inclusive of this evaluation is the overall lifecycle cost – the procurement, operations and maintenance – of the electric buses, which is to inform future fleet selections.

BYD will also supply the project’s charging stations, data management centres, spare parts, technical support and training for bus drivers and mechanical staff, fleet maintenance services, and battery replacements, when required.

The tender specifies that electric buses should be able to travel at least 250 km in traffic before the batteries need recharging.

Local job creation

One of the added benefits of the project, according to the city, is the fact that the buses will be  assembled locally in Blackheath, resulting in the creation of jobs for locals.

“This will provide local residents with job opportunities and the chance to learn new skills as this would be the first time that electric buses are manufactured and assembled in Cape Town. We are excited about the prospect of exposing our local labour to new technology on the factory floor, in particular given the fact that more and more cities are becoming conscious of our collective duty to explore cleaner energy alternatives,” De Lille said.

Other added benefits

The city also highlighted a number of benefits for its administration and residents from the electric bus project, including low operational costs, less heat generated from engines, less noise, a smoother drive for passengers and bus drivers.

“As we reduce our carbon footprint, Transport for Cape Town will earn carbon credits which the City will be able to sell on the international market through mechanisms provided to signatories of the Kyoto Protocol as well as on local emerging markets as a result of the current SA Carbon Tax Act and the carbon offset regulations.

If all goes as planned, the city hopes the electric buses will start operating in June 2017.

“We are really looking forward to this day,” De Lille concluded.