Call for harmonization of the taxation of electric transport
Transport authorities and purchase and management of e-bus fleets

In a European context, the year 2030 has been designated as the year in which public bus transport must be zero emission. This objective is also set in Denmark. In and around Copenhagen Movia Public Transport is the transport authority. CEO Dorthe Nøhr Pedersen explained how that should be achieved. This objective has been set together with the municipalities in the 'Movia area'. Movia launched the first tenders for electric buses in 2017 and 2018. The lesson learned from this is that the costs are higher than with diesel buses. Movia defends these higher prices towards its clients with the statement that good public transport is subject to a good 'green' image, according to Pedersen. “Without that you will not get the public along, nor will the politicians.” The first tender that was issued was for a number of electric buses in the city of Roskilde. Pedersen said they have been driving there for two months now to full satisfaction. Movia only prescribes zero emission in the specifications. How the carrier wishes to comply is up to him. At the end of this year there must be 67 electric buses of three brands operating in the area operated by three carriers.

In Roskilde, both the population and politicians are proud of their first electric bus fleet, but according to Pedersen, this has not yet led to additional passengers. The tender in Roskilde was written because of political pressure to buy electric buses, regardless of the conditions. But at Movia people were not so sure that the e-buses would actually do well, and the carriers also had objections, Pedersen explains. Visiting e-bus fleets in London and the Netherlands gave Movia the benefit of the doubt. It was clear that the introduction of the e-bus fleets is a challenge for the operators in terms of operation. “We know that the margins are low, the competition is fierce and in addition, the companies are experts in driving and managing diesel bus fleets. Now they have to change rapidly in terms of e-bus fleet expertise. That is a challenge for them. We have also included an incentive in the specifications that a carrier will receive a full bonus if he does not use diesel buses on the bus lines in question during the first two years.”

Pedersen noted that in Europe there is a different tax regime for electricity for metro's and trains. It is lower than taxes on electricity for buses. Pedersen has pointed this out to her Danish MEPs in the hope that there will be a level playing field. She also pointed the danger that because electric buses are more expensive to buy than diesel buses, politicians might be tempted to allow these additional costs at the expense of public transport services to become zero emission.

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