The tender should be completed by the end of the year with the final award. After the award, the first vehicles could “be on the road in the last quarter of next year” – if everything goes according to plan, according to IVB Director Martin Baltes.
The order was preceded by several test phases. The 15 vehicles include 13 solo buses and two articulated buses. According to the IVB, the use of the e-buses should save around 5,500 tons of CO2 per year in Innsbruck.
Additional effort for drivers and mechanics
The 15 buses will not all be put into operation at once. “We’ll start with four next year,” says Baltes. The commissioning of the vehicles creates additional work for both drivers and mechanics, who receive their own training and will have to deal with high-voltage systems for the first time. It is not yet possible to say how much the additional effort will be. “These are very precise calculations, where we will then look at where there is an additional need for personnel,” Baltes told ORF Tirol.
These calculations are currently being made for the entire line network. According to IVB plans, a total of around 100 buses will then be replaced by “clean vehicles” in the coming years. This includes e-buses as well as hydrogen or trolley buses.
Charges not sufficient for full circulation
The range of an e-bus is around 200 kilometers if all inclines are taken into account. “A bus cycle is around 250 kilometers or even 300 to 380 kilometers for peak routes. There is still a lack of range here,” says Baltes. Therefore, some of the e-buses have to be swapped over the course of the day, which also means more work for drivers. The 15 e-buses should therefore primarily be used for shorter trips or as push-in vehicles so that they can then be recharged at the depot.
E-buses are also much more expensive than the current buses. “When purchasing the vehicles, you can count on a factor of two to two and a half,” says Baltes for the first tranche. However, he is confident that the costs will be reflected in the years to come.
Clean vehicles for all of Innsbruck
The long-term goal is to equip all public bus services in Innsbruck with clean vehicles. How quickly this process progresses depends heavily on public funding.
Some test phases have already been carried out in Innsbruck. In doing so, it was possible to gain insights into the range and the local weather conditions in order to ensure safe operation. “We always have to reckon with the worst case: the days of the strongest heat and the greatest cold with full load,” says Baltes on the requirements for the use of buses with new drive systems.