Dubai: Trials of an electric-powered bus, as part of Dubai’s public transport fleet, have kick-started, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has announced.

RTA had announced the launch of the electric bus in March, as part of its green initiatives that helps reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

The trial phase will run for nine months on the solitary bus, with the RTA also exploring the idea of employing more electric-powered vehicles based on the results of the trial.

The electric bus, which is powered by batteries, is expected to improve efficiency and reduce emissions by up to 80 per cent when compared to a conventional bus.

“This is a unique initiative at the regional level, launched in support of sustainable development plans of public transport systems with the aim of conserving natural resources and protecting the environment from pollution,” said Mattar Al Tayer, Chairman of the Board and Executive Director of RTA.

Al Tayer added that the batteries can be charged up to 80 per cent in less than 30 minutes.

When fully charged, the electric bus can travel a distance of 200km at an estimated speed of about 100km/h.

“The trial will evaluate the environmental benefits, measure carbon emissions, the distance covered with fully charged battery, bus speed, battery lifespan, and bus adaptability to weather conditions in the UAE, especially during the summer season,” he said.

The test run will also assess the engine efficiency and maintenance cost, among others.

He stated that on the basis of these results, the RTA will decide on the next step.

The electric bus is among several green initiatives launched by RTA that has helped improve Dubai’s ecological footprint.

“The RTA has rolled out several initiatives concerned with the conservation of the environment such as clean energy and green buildings. Among the pioneering projects of RTA are the Dubai Metro and Dubai Tram, which rank among the top mass transit projects worldwide,” said Al Tayer.

He emphasised the fact that both the mass transit modes are powered by electricity and have reduced the use of private vehicles which, in turn, has led to curbing carbon emissions in Dubai.

Recent studies commissioned by the RTA on the carbon footprint of the Dubai Metro showed that the amount of carbon emissions was reduced by 60,000 tonnes in 2014, while the water saving initiative of the Dubai Metro, covering both the Red and Green Lines, contributed to reducing water use by as much as 30 per cent.

He added that hybrid vehicles among its fleet of buses and taxis have led to a reduction in emissions by 30 per cent when compared to conventional vehicles.

Also among RTA’s green projects are electricity-powered abras, which are efficient and run faster and are quieter.

Apart from the above initiatives, RTA’s smart and electronic services have saved time, money and effort, and the use of paper during transactions.

According to RTA data, smart and e-services in 2014 contributed to saving about seven million pieces of paper, which is equivalent to saving 213 trees. Moreover, smart and e-services have reduced the wasted kilometres by 14 million, and saved fuel by as much as 1.4 million litres.

RTA has already embarked on a project to gradually replace all street lights with LED lighting systems by 2030, further reducing the CO2 emissions by 3,000 tonnes per year.

The authority recently felicitated groups, businesses and individuals for winning the second Energy and Green Economy Award, presented by the RTA to encourage eco-friendly initiatives.