The Global’s Biggest Electrical Bus Has Been Sitting In A Parking Lot For three Years

With over 200,000 electrical buses, China is the undisputed ruler of the electrical bus marketplace. With over 16,000, Shenzhen leads towns the world over. The remainder of us are merely enjoying for 2d position.

And in that race, Bogota, house to one,485 electrical buses, is the unexpected winner! The explanations don’t seem to be all that excellent: Colombia’s capital, in contrast to maximum towns of an identical measurement, determined to guess the whole lot on buses (and is best now construction its first metro line). The effects of this, excellent and dangerous, don’t seem to be inside the scope of this newsletter.

Regardless, this all-in guess implies that Bogota has needed to paintings to make buses paintings, and in spite of all its flaws, it these days provides a competent and easy-to-use bus carrier with just about complete protection. Not too long ago, the town went during the effort of buying just about 1,500 electrical buses to support carrier, scale back air pollution, and ameliorate driving prerequisites. Thus far, the verdict turns out to were a luck, and the buses paintings precisely as meant.

Symbol courtesy of Town of Bogota.

However, unfortunately, no longer all information is excellent, as the town has saved the biggest electrical bus — a 27-meter-long, bi-articulated, LFP-powered, BYD electrical bus — sitting in a carpark since 2019. The explanations are in the beginning bureaucratic, and to know them, we first want to indicate the variations between the 2 bus programs in Bogota:

Transmilenio & SITP

Transmilenio and the Built-in Machine of Public Delivery (SITP) in combination compose the general public transportation device in Bogota. In this day and age, they paintings below the similar umbrella, however their histories range, and so they come from other puts.

Transmilenio, the oldest of the 2, used to be born in December 2001 as a BRT resolution for probably the most crowded street within the town and a substitute for raise folks from the north and west peripheries of the town into the middle, nevertheless it has expanded considerably since then. It operates with articulated and bi-articulated buses that may raise as much as 260 folks every and, as any BRT, shuttle inside of unique lanes. Oh, and so they’re crimson.

SITP used to be born in 2012 to switch the chaotic non-public bus device that had existed within the town because the Nineteen Sixties and to provide an built-in device with Transmilenio (in the past, for those who took a bus after which a BRT, you needed to pay the 2 fares); as such, it operates common buses (as much as 120 passengers) that experience along non-public cars. And it’s the SITP, no longer Transmilenio, that these days owns and operates the ones 1,495 buses that we spoke of sooner than. In contrast to Transmilenio, the SITP does no longer have a singular colour, even though maximum of them are blue (and one of the electrical ones have been painted inexperienced).

It used to be Mayor Enrique Peñalosa who at the start proposed Transmilenio again in 1998, and it used to be him as soon as once more who began the electrification of the device, as someplace round part the electrical buses bought have been deliberate right through his 2d time period (2016–2020). And but, it used to be that very same mayor who blocked any probability of having articulated and bi-articulated electrical buses, claiming that the generation used to be “no longer but confirmed.” He blocked BYD from the bidding arranged in 2019 for the renewal of the BRT fleet.

Mayor Enrique Peñalosa right through an match held within the Portal de Suba patio-workshop. Symbol courtesy of Town of Bogota.

BYD’s Trials

BYD used to be the principle supplier of the electrical buses bought for the SITP. The corporate obviously was hoping to grow to be a supplier for Transmilenio as neatly — in spite of Mayor Peñalosa’s refusal — and to transparent any doubt, it despatched an articulated electrical bus for an ordeal in 2017. For 2 years, the bus operated without a problems, and but BYD wasn’t thought to be for the bidding. If you’re questioning, the 18-meter-long bus averaged an potency between 0.82 and zero.94 kWh/km, relying on the kind of carrier equipped.

However the corporate used to be no longer going to surrender so simply (in any case, it made a killing with the SITP biddings), and in 2019 it doubled down on its guess, bringing a high-floor bi-articulated electrical bus referred to as K12A, the primary of its sort and the one one ever constructed by means of then. After which … not anything came about. The bus by no means were given to satisfy the streets of Bogota, to listen to the sound of the jams and claxons amidst site visitors, nor to really feel the impatience of those that’re taking BRT as a result of they’re past due for a gathering (and I’ve been certainly one of them) … as it used to be by no means allowed to depart the parking space.

The rationale? Bogota’s strict law has a weight restrict for BRT buses, which this one, simply slightly, surpassed.


The Colombian Institute for Technical Requirements and Certification (ICONTEC) supplies technical requirements for, neatly, the whole lot within the nation. When it comes to the articulated and bi-articulated buses, the usual is named ICONTEC NTC-4901, and it calls for that they won’t weigh greater than 40 heaps. Which is a matter, as a result of BYD’s K12A bus weights 44 heaps.

This norm used to be reviewed in 2016 and the higher restrict larger in order that a bus like this one may function. Alternatively, 7 years after this truth, the Ministry of Delivery has no longer but followed the brand new law, and the biggest electrical bus on the planet stays in a carpark, looking forward to the time when it’s going to in the end be allowed to serve its function.

When requested in September 2022, the Ministry of Delivery indicated that the problem “is being reviewed.”

Hydrogen Bus Pilot

Regardless, Bogota stays dedicated to greener, cleaner public transportation and, in spite of already having a confirmed resolution, the town has began a pilot with a in the community assembled gasoline mobile hydrogen bus (even though, the cells are definitely imported, and the supply wasn’t equipped). The bus, to be joined by means of 13 extra within the following years, will likely be powered with inexperienced hydrogen produced in the community. This pilot is going hand in hand with the Colombian executive’s guess on inexperienced hydrogen as a substitute for change oil and coal exports, based totally upon the inexpensive electrical energy that may be produced at the windy and sunny Caribbean coast. Whether or not that guess will likely be folly or will be triumphant, it is still noticed.

For the following 8 years, the buses will function in Bogota to offer knowledge on their price, their necessities, and their obstacles in excessive altitudes.


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