On the last day of the African Union of Public Transport (UATP) Workshop on Best Practice in Africa, the City of Cape Town announced that biofuel and electric buses are on the cards for the MyCiTi bus service in the near future.

The importance of alternative fuel for public transport counted among the top discussion points during the final round of case study sessions at the UATP Workshop hosted by Transport for Cape Town, the City’s transport authority, which is to be concluded this evening, 22 October 2015.

‘While the MyCiTi bus service has significantly improved the quality of life of our residents through access to affordable, decent and safe public transport, we now also have the responsibility to lower our carbon emissions and the impact of pollution on the urban environment. As such, Transport for Cape Town, the City’s transport authority, will issue a tender for the procurement of electric buses within the next few months. In addition, we are undertaking a research project into biofuels to determine how we can make use of alternative fuel to improve our efficiency and to run a cleaner MyCiTi service,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member: Transport for Cape Town, Councillor Brett Herron.

Experts in alternative fuel who attended the UATP Workshop cited that cities will represent 80% of energy use and carbon emissions by 2025. Currently, 97% of public transport across the world operates on diesel, contributing to pollution and climate change. Worldwide there are 1,3 million deaths due to traffic accidents annually and a further 3,1 million deaths from particle emissions – meaning one out of eight deaths is related to poor air quality.

Biofuel, such as biogas or biodiesel, is produced from renewable resources: plant biomass, vegetable oils or treated municipal and industrial waste – the latter of which cities around the world can put to good use. According to the latest research, presented at the UATP Workshop this morning, buses operating on electricity or gas can also cover more distance than a bus with a diesel engine for the same amount of energy.

‘When we rolled out the first MyCiTi bus routes in May 2010, we could never have imagined that the service would be growing at such a pace. We are now transporting nearly 59 184 passengers every weekday and the MyCiTi buses have become such an integral part of Cape Town that one can hardly imagine our city without them. On average, the MyCiTi buses cover a distance of over 1 270 000 kilometres each month. As we intend on growing our MyCiTi footprint with the roll-out of more routes across the city, it is imperative that we investigate cleaner and alternative fuels for our buses. An added benefit of electric buses is the fact that they operate almost silently, which will also help to cut back on noise pollution,’ said Councillor Herron.