The UITP Awards celebrate the most innovative and ambitious sustainable mobility projects undertaken in the last two years in cities and regions around the world.

The 2019 UITP Awards were handed out during the Global Public Transport Summit in Stockholm. We sat down with each winning team to learn more about their project and to pick their brains about innovation in the sector.

Winner of the Award “Smart Funding, Financing and Business Models”: METBUS (BUSES METROPOLITANA S.A), SANTIAGO CHILE and ENEL X (ENEL GROUP) for "Private Business Model to implement electric mobility in public transport in the city of Santiago"

Tell us briefly about your project.

The project’s objective was to implement a fully operational electric bus fleet in Santiago de Chile’s Public Transport System, targeting both economic and environmental sustainability.

Metbus coordinated the entire supply chain, encouraging deeper integration within the operation. Enel X, the power supplier, also supplied buses, charging infrastructure and financing for the operation. Additionally, Metbus worked closely with bus manufacturer BYD to reach a high performance maintenance agreement.

What are some of this project’s key successes?

The project reached 102 electric buses in the capital city of Chile and reduced the risk for the bus operator, sharing it with the rest of the supply chain. It also overcame barriers such as the lack of available resources from the public sector, the higher investment costs compared to ICE buses, the risk perceived due to little global experience in battery electric buses and the perceived need to adapt the way buses are operated due to e-bus constraints.

It’s important to highlight the impressive operational performance of the first two e-buses, which were at over 99% availability within a 12 month period. This demonstrates that e-buses can have a superior operational availability than ICE vehicles.

As one of the country’s pioneer in electro mobility, this project has awakened the interest of the Chilean government in supporting this technology. As a result, the government structured a public electro mobility policy for public transport around the results obtained in the initial phase of the project.

In what way does this project bring about significant change in the public transport sector?

The creation of a new business model, in which the supply chain is integrated and the operator becomes a coordinator, ensures a more equitable risk distribution among the actors involved.

The conceptualization of an electric corridor in Santiago (a route only operated with electric buses) allows complementary developments at bus stops, turning them into smarter, safer and more efficient infrastructures.

Finally, smart charging technology reduces the total peak power by 40% compared to a base solution and leads to an additional 50% decrease in power costs, thanks to a smarter use of time. This technology also contributes to increase in e-bus availability by ensuring that 100% of vehicles are charged prior to the bus dispatching time.

How does it benefit public transport users?

Any increase in electromobility is a net win for the urban population thanks to the decrease in noxious breathable particles, CO2 and noise.

Satisfaction has increased significantly, from 4,5 to 6,3 ( on a scale from 1 to 7). Passengers highlight the use of air conditioning (first Transantiago buses to include them), additional space and seats and no pollution or noise at all.

As a result of the implementation of a driver’s training plan, new regulations and a control plan, there was a change in the operational paradigm of the company, bringing the operation regularity indicators of electric buses up to 94,5%, which is the highest percentage the company has ever achieved.

What lessons can other organisations and authorities learn from this project?

Sometimes it is necessary to think out of the box. When introducing a new technology that is initially more capital intensive than others and brings a heavier balance sheet, doing “business as usual” may not work. Innovative formulas and new financial and technological solutions need to be found.

Tell us about any new projects.

Following our lead, the City of Santiago has invited other operators to bring additional 100 e-buses to Santiago, totalling 203 electric buses currently operating in the city. Our team is working on bringing additional zero emission buses. The goal is to duplicate the number of electric buses within the next 12 months.

Stay tuned for more interviews with the remaining winners of the UITP Awards!

Join us from Monday the 8th of July as UITP gets "Busy with the Bus'" all the way to the International Bus Conference!