Practical procurement guide for public transport buses

CENIT aids call for municipal action on urban mobility with practical procurement guide for alternative bus technology

Traditionally the increase in urban mobility demand and infrastructure has been positively correlated with economic growth and quality of life, whilst this may still remain true for the latter the same can no longer be said of urban mobility. We need a rethink!

With Urban populations set to further surge in the coming years, the need to ensure that population growth remains compatible with minimum quality of life conditions is becoming a key issue for urban mobility. Of course the growth of the number of surface passengers worldwide depends on energy costs, technology and urban transport policies. In this short article we´re going to deal with all three of these issues.

The issues surrounding the impact of urban mobility on quality of life include not only include the negative externalities of mobility – such as accidents, congestion and time spent commuting – but given the fact that around a quarter of all man-made CO2 emissions are produced by transport (source: UNECE ( as a public transport entity, the Metropolitan Transport Authority´s challenge is to manage the increase in demand for urban mobility whilst first containing and then reducing polluting emissions.

In fact, the negative externalities of mobility in the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona (pollution, accidents, congestion, etc.) amounted to more than €3,800M in 2014 (ATM, 2017a) and reaching higher levels of emissions than acceptable according to the World Health Organization. This situation has even led to Brussels bringing Spain to European Court of Justice for repeatedly breaching the limits in the metropolitan areas of Barcelona and Madrid.

Aware of these challenges that lie ahead the Metropolitan Transport Authority commissioned CENIT to undertake a study of the various motor technologies with the final aim of producing a practical guide for the future purchase of public transport buses.

CENIT’s Urban Mobility Engineer Eglantina Dani explains “Public transport, one of the key elements of sustainable mobility, has not been left on the side lines with regards to the emergence of alternative energy sources to fuel, such as electricity or gas. However, as with all large investments a careful analysis of the costs, investments and risks linked to each of the technologies associated with the different energy sources was necessary. Our end goal was to create a practical reference guide for decision-makers (operators, public administrations) on the acquisition of buses in terms of:

the economic viability of the different energy technologies of the buses available in the market specifically to identify which technology can be produced at the lowest possible unit cost.
the technical feasibility of the different energy technologies of the buses available in the market and moreover the technical suitability to operate on the line required for incorporation
fuel and charging infrastructures required and associated costs
comparative emissions study
risk analysis

And the planning starts now! With an average lifespan of 12 years, buses purchased today will remain in operation until at least 2033. CENIT´s practical guide will help operators make the right decision to set Barcelona on the path to meet the 2030 Climate Target Plan’s objective to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to at least 55% below 1990 levels by 2030 with the ultimate goal of the EU to be climate-neutral by 2050 (source: European Commission).