The Route to Global Sustainability – How Six Cities Across the World Are Revolutionising Green Bus Transportation

The development of sustainable transportation across the world is often diverse – though various cities endeavour to implement greener forms of transportation or make their current transportation systems more environmentally efficient, rarely do multiple countries adopt the same methods at the same time. 2024 seems to be a turning point, however, as multiple cities around the world appear united in their efforts to implement hydrogen or electric buses and revolutionise their public transportation. As the ITDP declares, 2024 could, in fact, be set to be the ‘Year of the Bus’.

In Europe, London is one city leading the charge for electrifying bus transportation; the 2018 London Environment Strategy manifesto outlined plans to ‘clean up the bus fleet’ by introducing emission free single decker buses after 2020, and hybrid fuel double decker buses after 2018. The city has since kept to these plans – in August 2023, London officially introduced 1000 electric buses into their fleet, with an additional 300 electric buses being introduced in January 2024. London’s developing emission-free bus fleet provides an alternative method of transportation for Londoners and will reduce the reliance on private cars fuelled by petrol.

Singapore is similarly increasing the number of electric buses available for the public to use through the purchase of 360 electric buses by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) to be used from December 2024 onwards. The Land Transport Authority is also redeveloping the infrastructure surrounding Singapore bus transportation, constructing multiple electric vehicle (EV) charging systems in bus depots across the city. These additional electric buses will supplement the electric bus fleet that began in Singapore in November 2020 with the original implementation of 40 electric buses by the LTA and help to expand the reach of ecological public transport in Singapore.

Senegal’s capital city of Dakar is similarly making strides towards establishing greener public transportation systems. In 2023 The Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund (EAIF) committed €46 million to constructing the first fully electric Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system in Africa with the ability to carry 300,000 daily passengers. In 2024, the BRT launched, providing 144 electric buses to over 18km of roads. This development has not only led to a reduction in journey times but also provided 1000 jobs to the sector and allowed marginalised groups access to green public transport through a 50% reduced fare.

The New South Wales Government has also acted on the policy to introduce electric buses to Sydney and the greater New South Wales area that was first proposed in their Net Zero Plan Stage 1: 2020-2030. Though the plan to replace all current buses with zero-emission buses has been underway since 2020, by 2024, there is estimated to be over 200 zero-emission buses in circulation on Sydney roads and 1200 new electric buses for the greater Sydney area by 2028.

Washington D.C has sought to expand the implementation of electric buses in the wider transportation and educational sectors. Like other cities, Washington D.C. has created a green roadmap to lay out upcoming ecological transportation plans for the coming years. This began with the deployment of two electric battery buses in 2023, which has been expanded in 2024 with the addition of ten more electric buses in various districts. Jay Inslee, the governor of Washington, also signed a proposed bill to transition the state’s 12,000 school buses to be emission-free – a significant step toward widening green transportation. Though the project has no current deadline, the signing of this bill is evidence of an undeniable shift toward a governmental focus on greener transportation for the public.

In South America, the city of Santiago showcased in January 2024 the new fleet of electric buses that will be implemented into its public transportation system – bringing the total number of electric buses to 2400. Not only do these electric buses operate with far fewer emissions than their diesel counterparts, but they also include new safety mechanisms with cameras on the front, back and sides of the bus, reducing potential accidents and risks that can be amplified from the quieter running of electric buses.

Ultimately, 2024 does appear to be an important year in the development of bus transportation. While the use of buses is already more environmentally efficient in regard to emissions, the introduction of electric buses or the upgrade of diesel buses to hybrid/electric vehicles can assist in lowering emissions even further or eliminating them entirely. While the global shift toward electric buses is undeniably a positive for the environmental movement, cities should remember that electric buses are not without their safety concerns; electric buses run far quieter than their diesel counterparts, so additional safety features should be kept in mind.