Towards electrified public bus transport in Latin America

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Submission Summary
Emissions from the transportation sector generate over $ 1 trillion in health damage every year. The growth of that sector has also contributed to expanding greenhouse gas emissions associated with rising sea levels, temperatures, fires, and other impacts on climate change. Urban bus fleets are the primary way of urban mobility for hundreds of millions of citizens in Latin America. However, those fleets are yet powered by diesel, an obsolete, and highly polluting technology. In order to tackle the challenges imposed on air quality and climate by diesel engines, cities must embrace an energy and technological transition. E-buses are an excellent solution for promoting cleaner and healthier urban areas while supporting local and national governments to achieve their climate goals. In this context, the expansion of e-bus fleets in Latin American cities is key to the economic and global future. This study aims to review the emerging trend of electric buses’ deployment in Latin America within the general framework of the concept of sustainable mobility. The article develops an overview of electric bus technologies available on the Latin American market and a spatial analysis of fleet deployment in Latin America. The analysis of the spatial distribution of e-buses in Latin America indicated that, in terms of the number of vehicles in operation, Chile and Colombia are the regional leaders and Santiago and Bogota are the cities holding the largest electric buses’ fleets. The study also indicates key factors to promote the technological transition and the electric buses’ deployment in Latin America: regulatory framework, clear and objective strategic planning, cooperation between national and local administration. Moreover, the case study of São Paulo (the largest Brazilian city) highlighted the typical limiting factors: political and regulatory limitations, high battery costs and dependency on infrastructure. Plus, one and half year into the covid19 pandemic led the local public transit system to a critical crisis. Passengers remain at home or they remain fearful of boarding buses and are using alternative transport modes. Consequently, public transit fares have fallen off a cliff. That economic crisis is a new challenge to electric buses’ deployment in Latin America. Finally, recommendations are presented to promote bus fleet replacement and to develop a comprehensive sustainable urban mobility strategy.
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5: Uniqueness and connectivity. Al-Baraha: unlocking urban futures
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LABMOB / Federal University of Rio de Janeiro
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