Paris Leads the Way on Zero Emission Buses

Eco friendly emission buses are a hot topic all over the world, as many governments struggle with balancing their need for low emissions with the cost and the practicality of it all.

To say the industry is in a state of flux is a misunderstatement, there is no one direction all the major bus and coach manufacturers are going in. This is partly due to engine manufacturers, coach builders and the like, and the different laws each individual country / city works to.

There is no doubt that software systems are helping to regulate and control coach and bus companies journeys, and systems like eCoachManager help to eliminate redundant journeys and make sure that vehicles can operate under optimum conditions.


A few leading engine manufacturers believe that until the battery situation is finally sorted out as the fuel source for low emission vehicles, then a hybrid vehicle is for now the best alternative.

The current state of play with totally electric vehicles is that there is not a defined, and as such de-facto, power unit that everybody agrees on. And some of the vehicles powered totally by batteries have a very short range.

The current answer is a hybrid engine, and when the batteries are low an engine kicks in and recharges them. The second problem with all electric engines is the time it takes to recharge them.

Bold Decisions

Paris has decided to put a stake in the ground and forgo hybrid technology, they wish to move over completely to battery powered vehicles. The powers that be in Paris view hybrid technology as a transitional way forward and should not be included in their long term city transport plans.

The other consideration the Parisian transport gurus have taken into account is that biogas will play a significant role in its fleet of Parisian buses for the future.

A similar stance has been taken on opportunity charging, this plays no part of the overall transport plan of Paris to only precure alternative energy buses. All vehicles will be charged overnight and the decision was decided by RATP (Regie Autonome des Transports Parisiens).

A recent quote from a spokesman from Nicolas Cartier of RATP was, Satisfactory operation using opportunity charging is, we believe, expensive and difficult.

RATP Future Focus

RATP is focused on the drive to get the streets of Paris moving with battery electric buses, already they have 74 in service and they are proving a great success. On one particular route, route 341, they have replaced the previous diesel buses on a one-for-one basis.

RATP has also stated that buying the new vehicles is not the biggest problem, it is making the depots electrically friendly. And that means they have designated 17 of their 25 bus depots to be eventually converted to electric-only, to do this will be a logistical nightmare and is a real challenge.

It means a significant power change for each depot, and it is forecasted each will need at least 12MW of power, and the additional charging points must not hinder the capacity of each depot.

Surprisingly they have estimated that the work will only take two years, but the problem is where to put the buses in the interim. Nicolas Cartier has predicted that once everything is operational that the lower maintenance benefits of battery electric buses will prove their worth. And that a reduction in engineering service work could be as much as 20%.

What is clear about all this is that with the drive from RATP for all-electric buses Paris will be a lot cleaner in the future as emissions will be greatly reduced. The procurement of the estimated one thousand battery electric buses will soon start, with the stipulation that manufacturers guarantee their batteries for a minimum of eight years.