Tallinn’s city government is formulating public transport modes, types of vehicles, guidelines, and investment for the coming decade. The objective was to replace diesel and gas with electricity by 2035. Russia’s war on Ukraine and the resulting energy squeeze, however, are forcing some rethinking by the authorities and transport operator TLT.
“The city’s goal is a gradual move to more environmentally friendly public transport. This means gas buses for a transition period and developing electric transport, whether we’re talking about tram tracks and new trams, trolleybuses, or electric buses. However, we cannot rule out having to update the existing fleet in the interim. In the long run, the relative importance of diesel buses will fall and that of CNG buses will grow,” said Tanel Kiik, deputy mayor in charge of transport. He added that municipal plans to quit fossil fuels by 2035 predated the Ukraine war and energy squeeze.
“We need to analyse whether switching to electric buses by 2035 is still realistic or whether we should retain some alternative fuels to manage risks. The war has highlighted new risks, also based on Ukraine’s experience of how to keep public transport going,” said Kiik.
TLT CEO Kaido Padar said that the company and city had drawn up different scenarios of transport mode requirements and costs. They project ten years ahead: the term during which Tallinn planned to dispense with public transport fossil fuels.
“We drew up plans for trams: if Tallinn wants more of them, what would it cost to expand the fleet and add new track and substations. We also calculated what needs to change for trolleybuses to remain and possibly expand. Finally, we drew plans which assume that trolleybuses disappear in favour of electric, diesel, or gas-powered buses,” said Padar.
The TLT director added that every scenario had pros and cons. “It would be good if a decision was taken in the first half of the year. Tendering can take up to two years,” he added.
Tallinn has three options for electric public transport other than trams: keeping trolleybuses and expanding their fleet and power grid, replacing trolleybuses with electric buses, or mixing trolleybuses and electric buses.
“Trolleybuses are married to their grid. Their advantage is that charging is constant and that trams can use their infrastructure in future. The trolleybus infrastructure is long-lived and they are cheaper to maintain than buses. Flexibility is electric buses’ advantage,” Padar said.
TLT estimates a city bus lasts 12 years, a trolleybus 35 years, and a tram 50 years. TLT has 540 buses, 350 of which use CNG and the rest diesel. The city is formulating a tender for 15 electric buses.
“The question is what to procure for the future. We should open the tender for bids this year. If we decide to drop trolleybuses, we need to know how many and what types of bus will replace them. Alternatively, we need to decide what to buy if trolleybuses stay,” said Padar.
Source: Stuff National