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Oslo, Norway, is planning to launch the world’s first fully electric public transit system so the city’s inhabitants can expect to travel fossil fuel-free by the end of this year.
In October 2022, a deal was announced to replace the remaining diesel buses in the city with 450 electric ones at the end of 2023. This change will make all of Oslo’s public transit offerings electric. Already Oslos public transport fleet includes a network of electrified trains, trams, ferries and more than 200 electric buses already working.
Øystein Dahl Johansen, spokesperson for Ruter, the public transport authority for Oslo, explains that the new bus fleet will be quieter and more comfortable for passengers compared to the old diesel ones.
“Many of the old diesel buses that are being replaced are around 10 years old, and have old technology and comfort standards,” he says.
According to CNTraveler, this upgrade cost 500 million kroner (51.3 million US dollars) and the city officials believe this investment will translate to savings in the long run. Though electric buses may cost more upfront, they have lower operations and maintenance costs.
"The maintenance is cheaper, it's also cheaper for the operators of the electric buses," Sirin Stav, Oslo's Vice Mayor for Environment and Transport, told Reuters. "All in all, this is a win-win situation,” she said.
Ruter doesn’t anticipate that the replacement of old diesel buses will increase the ridership within the transit system but they believe that in the bigger picture, it will make Oslo a more attractive place for both residents and visitors, Johansen says.
“Emission-free public transport makes Oslo a better city to live in, with less air pollution and less noise,” he says.
Environmentalists warn that electric mass transit has its own ecological burdens - especially during the manufacturing and recycling of batteries. Ingvild Roerholt, a transport specialist at Norwegian environmental group ZERO says that the burgeoning industry has to take accountability and make improvements in order to meet acceptable environmental standards.
“There are big emissions, environmental problems, and human rights violations associated with parts of the [battery] industry today,” she says.
There are many destinations around the world that have embraced electric public transit solutions together with Norway. Travelers can expect electrified public transport during the years to come in for example Berlin, Bogotá, Jakarta and Los Angeles.