The answer to that question is really yesterday. To meet the Paris Agreement’s climate goals of completely fossil-free transport by 2050 to slow down global warming, it is urgent.
Actively transitioning fleets from the traditional diesel, mild hybrid, full hybrid and CNG buses to fully electric has been supported across several states of Australia with many planning to complete the overhaul by 2030. As recently as October 2021, the Australian Government released a roadmap to ensure the 2050 target is reached.
The approach to implementing electrified public transport differs a lot in various parts of the world. For example, China has today about 90 per cent of all electric buses in the world, mainly due to large subsidies for manufacturers and operators in recent years. This development has primarily been driven by the need to improve the air quality in large cities.
Improving air quality
In addition to the Paris Agreement’s ambition to minimise greenhouse gas emissions, every country has its own target for carbon dioxide emissions, as well as nitrogen oxides and particles. The transition to electrified vehicles will play a very important role here too.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), air pollution has become the world’s single largest environmental health risk and it is the fourth highest cause of death among all health risks. Today, 90 per cent of the world’s population live in areas that do not meet the WHO’s minimum standards for air quality.
Minimising traffic noise is another challenge that is high on the agenda for many cities, and where we can see requirements becoming increasingly stricter.
WHO recommends that noise levels along roads and sidewalks are not to exceed 53dB, where countless research In highly dense areas such as major cities recorded levels that well and truly exceeded this recommendation. Excessive noise can result in, among other things, an increased risk of disturbed sleep, cardiovascular disease and damaged hearing.
Both the negative health effects of noise and the construction of noise barriers can be costly. For cities, there is therefore much to be gained from reducing noise where it occurs. In city traffic, heavy vehicles with diesel or gas engines are among the dominant sources of noise.
Making public transport attractive
In addition to the fact that electrified public transport is necessary for achieving climate goals and reducing hazardous emissions and harmful noise, there are several other arguments in favour of electrified buses.
With growing populations and urbanisation, demands for functional and sustainable public transport increases. Traffic jams are already a very big challenge for cities around the world. For cities to be attractive in the future, they must be able to offer their residents efficient, sustainable, quiet and convenient transport options.
Electrified public transport also creates new and exciting opportunities for mobility and urban development. Without exhaust fumes and high noise levels, buses can operate in more areas and you can build in areas of cities that were previously unavailable. Public transport can take people closer to where they need to be, and you can even build bus stops indoors. All of this allows cities to become denser, but also more attractive for their inhabitants.