Dutch public transport switches to 100 percent emissions-free buses

In April, Netherlands Environment Minister Dijksma signed an agreement with all Dutch transport operators that in the near future more electric and hydrogen-powered buses will be used in public transport. The provinces of Noord-Brabant and Limburg laid the foundations for this agreement because bus companies in those two provinces will have switched completely to electric vehicles over a few years. National agreements with all regions were drawn up at the Amsterdam informal Transport and Environment Council meeting during which Minister Dijksma met with other European environment ministers.

Minister Dijksma: ‘Noord-Brabant and Limburg are showing us that zero-emissions buses are an intelligent investment for both the environment and the economy. We will have cleaner cities and emissions of greenhouse gases that are harmful to the environment will be reduced. Moreover, it will give a significant boost to the position that the Netherlands as a country wants to occupy regarding making our urban and regional transport more sustainable. Dutch companies that develop technologies and manufacture buses can also benefit from this approach.’

With their signatures, the Association of Provincial Authorities in the Netherlands and the metropolitan regions agreed that their tendering procedure for bus concessions will include the requirement that all buses are zero-emissions vehicles. A further requirement is that by no later than 2025, the energy that powers the buses must be generated completely sustainably by solar panels or wind turbines in the region. In recent years, several regions have conducted trials using hydrogen-powered buses. When burned, the hydrogen is converted to power the electric drive of the bus, emitting only clean water vapor.

Another advantage of making the bus market greener is that market competition will create room for innovative new – and cheaper – technologies. The Dutch companies VDL and Ebusco are already major producers of electric buses which are sold both in the Netherlands and abroad. The Chinese company BYD, which also makes electric vehicles, set up a branch in the Netherlands a short while ago. Among other things, this company has already supplied Schiphol Airport with 35 electric buses that transport passengers to and from the terminals.