Electric buses roll out in Northern France
A fleet of 43 fully electric buses have begun operating on three of the four new bus rapid transit (BRT) routes in Amiens, northern France.
The service is being run by public transport operator Keolis on behalf of Amiens Métropole. Called Nemo, these four new BRT routes, make up the backbone of the whole Ametis public transport network.
According to Keolis, the BRT system is the first of its kind in France and represents a major milestone in the roll-out of its electro-mobility strategy which will see the group become France’s leading operator of electric shared mobility networks by the end of 2019.
Amiens Métropole and Keolis forecast an increase of 28 per cent in passenger numbers over the next five years as a result of this new network.
The buses, which can accommodate up to 151 passengers, operate on three routes which serve some of the intercommunal area’s key locations, including the city centre, its leisure facilities (hippodrome, the exhibition centre and the new swimming pool), university hospital complex, university campuses, train stations and the main residential areas.
Built by Spanish manufacturer Irizar, the new buses are environmentally friendly, silent and cost-efficient, emit no atmospheric pollution and reduce noise and vibrations significantly.
A first in Europe, these electric vehicles have a charging system which features a rapid charge option in the bus terminal (4-5 minutes average charging time for 40 km of autonomous service), or a slower charge option in the bus depot at night (3-4 hours to charge to 100 per cent capacity).
To prepare for the launch of the electric BRT system and upgrade the skill sets of the people involved in operating these new vehicles, Keolis has implemented a training scheme for more than 300 drivers, as well as employees in charge of maintaining the electric vehicles and the regulators at the central control station.
The roll-out sees the group become France’s leading operator of electric shared mobility networks by the end of 2019
A new certified operations and maintenance centre HEQ which can accommodate up to 155 buses has also been built in Rivery, on the outskirts of Amiens.
To support this new network, starting in June 2019, a new ticketing system (featuring post-payment in particular) will be introduced to make passenger journeys easier, along with a new inclusive fee system based on passengers’ income.
Keolis has been operating the Ametis public transport network in Amiens since 2012. At the end of 2017, its contract was renewed until the end of April 2024, and under its terms, it will continue to provide mobility services for the 180,000 residents of Amiens Métropole residing in 39 towns and villages over a 350 km² area.
In addition to the fully-electric BRT buses in Amiens, Keolis Group is preparing to launch several other shared mobility solutions on dedicated lanes: a fully-electric BRT in Bayonne-Biarritz-Anglet; a hydrogen-powered BRT in Pau and the Caen tram system, which will all be brought into service over the next few months.
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