This year’s UITP congress brought me three insights and one award.
Insight 1: Electromobility is beyond the tipping point
Cities, bus manufacturers, bus operators all had the same message: “We are now going to implement electromobility”. Hybrid, plug-in hybrids or electric buses are preferred depending on the operational demands.
Not many months ago some cities still talked about Euro VI diesel and gas. At the UITP congress it was different. Cities talk about either a date from which they will purchase only buses with electric or hybrid drives, or they talk about a date from which their full fleet will be converted to electromobility.
Håkan Agnevall, President Volvo Buses, has since long positioned Volvo for an electric future. Nova Bus is our North American brand. We are proud of Nova Bus and how we deal with the public transport challenges in North America.
Insight 2: Charging technology is harmonized by OppCharge
I presented the OppCharge interface for charging at one of the sessions. I talked about electric charging technology and how a common technology will make it easier for cities to find several suppliers of both buses and infrastructure for charging.
In 2012, Volvo was at a cross road. We started the development of the plug-in and electric buses that we offer today.
We were in dialogue with lots of cities and they all said the same. They wanted:
i) A charging system with high reliability
ii) A charging system that was affordable
iii) A charging system that could be supplied by many charging system suppliers and that was used by many bus suppliers
We developed OppCharge together with Siemens and later also with ABB to deliver what the cities asked for. Now the community supporting OppCharge has grown and the list is found on the homepage.
Insight 3: Autonomous vehicles have social challenges
Two different autonomous vehicles were demonstrated outside the Congress Centre. An area around the public square in front of the Palais des Congres was fenced off for the demonstrations. The autonomous cabin loaded people on one side of the square and dropped them on the other side.
So far so good, the interesting part was the behavior of the pedestrians that did not ride with the vehicle. The vehicle had to pass two zebra crossings. As I stood there watching the vehicle moving, the pedestrians walked in closely in front of the vehicle. The vehicle stopped, as it should. Most of them seemed to rely on that the vehicle would see them and stop. This pattern was repeated more or less every time the zebra crossing was passed. It seems that pedestrians respect autonomous vehicles much less than vehicles with human drivers.
Award: UITP Awards 2017 in the category Operational and Technical Excellence
When the winners of the UITP Awards 2017 were announced the Gothenburg camp exploded with joy.
Electricity has in total 15 partners and the prize winners were represented by Public Transport Authority Västtrafik and Volvo Buses.
The motivation was: multi-stakeholder electric bus demonstration project implemented in Gothenburg (Sweden) on public transport line 55, connecting two university campuses. This project successfully integrates all elements of modern bus-based mobility solutions and points to the future of bus services worldwide. Its innovative technology is deployed in real operation conditions and it is perfectly integrated in the public transport system.