Blog: Dutch electric bus
Dave Leggett | 11 April 2011
I find myself increasingly being drawn into conversations about where transport is heading, in a 'big picture' sense. What's going to be 'sustainable' in the future given rising population, urbanisation and the availability and cost of alternative energy sources? What will it all look like in 2030 or 2050?
There's plenty to mull: the rise of electric drive (and gov incentives), the price of oil and the position of the fossil-fuelled internal combustion engine in general, engine downsizing, CO2 emissions and 'climate change', power generation for electric cars (renewables, nuclear...), the coming of diesel-electric hybrids, more efficient gasoline engines, second gen biofuels, synthetic ethanols...it's a long list.
And there's always the fundamental question of our energy use and the most efficient way to solve transportation needs (the transportation 'problem'), for both freight and people.
If we know that lots of people have a desire to travel from the centre of one city to the centre of another one over a distance of say 150 miles or more - then solutions like railways start to make a lot of sense. It starts to be worth the heavy investment in infrastructure to create high-speed rail links.
But there must still be parts of the passenger transportation market that would be better served by more flexible solutions that don't entail such massive up-front investment, that could maybe use existing infrastructure like the roads? Ah, yes, the cheery inter-urban road coach of folklore. We have something called 'National Express' here and it provides a low-cost service much appreciated by cash-strapped students I believe. But it's a bit basic and you will be sat in a coach seat for a long period of time.
Here's something to ponder in terms of a potentially flexible and environmentally clean solution to add into the mix: a 23-seater electric bus capable of 250km/h has been developed in the Netherlands. It certainly doesn't look very manouevrable, but maybe it wouldn't have to be if it just moved between special out of town stations and stuck to major highways...it is at least an intriguing project...those crazy Dutch, eh?