RTA electric bus charging under the arm of standing charger at La Mer Station Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has launched a trial run of two electric buses that are charged using technology which is being experimented for the first time in Dubai.

The two Volvo 7900 buses will shuttle on a specific path in both directions between La Mer South, King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Street and Al Sufouh Tram Station. The launch is coordinated with Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), Volvo Bus Company, Meraas Real Estate, and ABB Group, a major firm in the electric bus charging industry.

Day and night chargers

The two buses are fitted with ‘Opportunity Charging’ technology, which is experimented for the first time in Dubai. Buses are charged by a standing electric charger supplied by ABB Group at La Mer South.

A night electric charger is provided at Al Quoz Bus Depot to run the night charging when the two buses are out of service. Therefore, buses can be electrically charged either through pantograph using a standing arm under which the bus is parked at La Mer, or by using cables.

Each bus is equipped with batteries that enable it to travel 200km when fully charged. The length of the distance travelled is a function of several factors such as the terrain of the road, temperature, and the operation of the air conditioners.

Each bus has 38 seats in addition to three foldable seats, a place for people of determination, and an interactive display screen.

Operational efficiency

During the trial period, which will continue until March 2022, RTA will measure the operational efficiency of the two electric buses and experiment the charging of electric buses using the charger at La Mer as well as the overnight charger at the Al Quoz Bus Depot.

RTA will train drivers on driving the electric bus and familiarise them with the bus system. It will also train controllers on monitoring the electric bus and the charging unit.

Mattar Mohammed Al Tayer, Director-General, Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors, RTA, said the move is part of RTA’s initiatives to support the use of eco-friendly vehicles and sustainable transit means.

Success hinges on chargers

Mattar Mohammed Al Tayer

He added: “It concurs with the Dubai Government’s energy and carbon strategy aimed to make Dubai a model in the efficient use of energy and reduced carbon emissions. The success of deploying and operating electric buses and vehicles as part of RTA’s mass transit fleet hinges largely on the availability and reliability of the charging technology, and whether it supports the continuous operation of buses without stopping or having to return to the charging stations.”

Encouraging green mobility

Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, Vice-Chairman of the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy, Managing Director and CEO of DEWA, said Dubai’s Green Mobility Initiative 2030 aims to stimulate the use of sustainable transit means and align them with the strategic goals of the emirate in terms of sustainability, air quality and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer

“This particularly fits with the spread of green charging stations of DEWA, which now exceed 300 stations offering 530 charging points across Dubai,” said Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer.

No emissions, no noise

Manish Sahi, Vice President, Volvo Bus Corporation, said: “We are excited about the possibilities electric buses will open up for cities like Dubai. Without emissions and noise, you can even build bus stops indoors.

Manish Sahi

“Volvo Electric buses will enhance travelling experience not only for passengers but also drivers and other road users, making cities more attractive for their inhabitants. This trial is a strong step forward towards achieving Dubai’s goal of being the world’s happiest city.”

Frank Muehlon

Frank Muehlon, president of ABB’s E-mobility Division, said: “We’ve witnessed a great example of private-public partnerships at RTA electric Bus Project, where it brought together key stakeholders from the Transport, Utility and Automotive industries. With more than 460,000 chargers installed worldwide in more than 88 countries and along with our global partners like Volvo Buses and local partners like Al Nabooda MENA Mobility.”

Ramez Hamdan

Ramez Hamdan, Managing Director of Al Futtaim Auto & Machinery Company (FAMCO) stated: “We are excited to be part of this highly strategic initiative and we have worked closely with our partners at RTA to provide them with the optimal solution for their strategic vision and we have partnered with the Volvo Bus Corporation to ensure our teams deliver the highest service, maintenance, response and support levels to our valued customer, the RTA.”