Could Electric Buses Work For Bermuda?

April 9, 2018

[Written by Don Burgess]

Could electric buses end Bermuda’s transportation woes?

Jeff Sousa believes E-buses are better than diesel. So much so, he and Sousa’s Landscape Management vice president Mohammed Farooqui made a presentation with Aideen Ratterray Pryse, the permanent secretary for the Ministry of Transport & Regulatory Affairs to discuss the idea of replacing Bermuda’s diesel bus fleet with one that would eventually be all electric.

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Mr Sousa is well aware some people may discount his proposal as he is a former One Bermuda Alliance MP, “but if they watch the presentation, they will see this is a very achievable, practical thing for Bermuda to have electric buses.”

Mr Sousa said this renewable energy source is “a viable alternative for public transportation.”

Mr Farooqui went to China to see E-Buses in operation. In December 2017, the city of Shenzhen completed its transformation to an all-electric bus fleet and now has 16,359 of the vehicles on the road and will soon be transitioning its taxi fleet, nearly 17,000 of them, to be all-electric vehicles as well.

Mr Farooqui said he read our current diesel buses costs close to $500,000.

“It really shouldn’t be that expensive,” he said. “Electric buses are like $300,000 or $320,000. This is a no-brainer. Then there are no fuel costs, and it has wifi, air conditioning and all the safety features.”

That would allow Bermuda to replace its ageing bus fleet quicker as more buses could be purchased.

Also, Mr Farooqui said Bermuda’s roads could have a magnetic strip underneath them, which would allow for nearly constant charging of the E-Busses.

He said this technology is standard in Asia, especially China and Japan.

If Bermuda didn’t do that option, because of its ideal size, there would only need to be three charging stations — Hamilton, Dockyard, and St. George.

Mr Farooqui said the lifespan of the buses is the same, but they break down less because there is no engine and attached components to have problems.

“They are expensive to start off with, they are constantly breaking down, they have high labour costs, and people have to breath in the carbon monoxide from the buses,” he said. “This is a win-win.”

He added, like Bermuda’s current fleet, the E-buses can be customised for the size of Bermuda.

Mr Sousa said, “As we put in the proposal to the permanent secretary of transportation we’re only looking at making a fair percentage – I’m talking about a small percentage, less than 10 per cent. We’re not looking at fleecing the public.

Also, Mr Sousa said there were other costs savings to be had through the elimination of the use of diesel fuel, reduced operating costs, fewer mechanical parts and higher efficiency.

“Honestly, this is a win-win for everybody. This is a community gift from Jeff Sousa and his team at Sousa’s Landscape Management to the people of Bermuda.”

“I want the Bermuda public to watch the video with a clear, open mind and how fantastic this would be for Bermuda without putting any prejudice in with the concept.

“It doesn’t make any business sense to keep doing the same thing over and over again. We have to advance and I feel Bermuda is in a good place to do this.”

The ‘E-buses for Bermuda’ presentation follows below [PDF here]:

click here Bermuda bus service

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Comments (27)

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  1. agatha christie says:

    I’m all for more electric vehicles but, there is a big but …. can Belco handle the extra load?

    • trees says:

      Belco should be totally fine as the majority of charging can be done at night when the load is at its lowest.

      Depending on the “quality” and provided the capacity of the batteries is spec’d right the “usable” lifespan should be good, 8 years perhaps even more. Once they are done then can be repurposed for energy storage on the grid for another 10 or more years before finally needing to be sent away for recycling.

      The challenge is what quality are these buses from China regarding components and batteries? Will they hold up in our climate, that will be the ultimate test.

    • Toodle-oo says:

      Offset maybe by the many , many hundreds of empty houses , apartments and office blocks ?

  2. upset voter says:

    This is not fair, what happened to waiting until the govt procurement notice came out and you get in line with everyone else. I hope the Govt don’t get hoodwinked by this!

    • The Outsider says:

      Government can order the buses on their own behalf, just like they do now. No need for them to get someone to procure them.

  3. Stinky D. says:

    The technology is not there yet for these to be cost effective. It will get there however it is not there yet.
    First the cost of an electric bus is twice as expensive as a diesel bus
    The batteries will have to be replaced every 4 years and these batteries are very expensive
    In the summer these buses will have the a/c running constantly and will need frequent charging
    As long as BELco is running fossil fuel to create electricity the buses will be consuming fossil fuels to recharge
    The infrastructure that will need to be built all around the island to support charging these vehicles will be quite costly
    Eventually we will have electric buses however no time soon because of the expense

  4. dick francis says:

    It has to be a good idea – cleaner, easier to maintain, less parts to break etc but …. can Belco handle the extra load as more and more electric vehicles come to the Island?

    • Sage says:

      A small percentage could possibly be recharged by solar energy. Just my layperson postulation.

  5. Cradle to Grave says:

    Great options but Waste Management needs to be involved in the discussion.
    Can Belco handle the load AND can Bermuda manage the waste of the batteries. In other words what is the cost and carbon footprint of an electric from cradle to grave.

    Bermuda has to find a suitable site for battery disposaland ship its waste off island (net positive). China’s economy thrives from manufacturing and has facilities that would pay a nominal fee to take the batteries and recycle them (net negative).

    There are also opportunities to go away from custom-made buses and purchase smaller stock vehicles.

    • Bermy says:

      Does the power to charge have to come from Belco. Is Tynes Bay a waste to energy incinerator? It’s def the way of the future but Bermuda always seems to be s bit behind with global trends

  6. Curious says:

    Great idea – it will be interesting to see if Bermuda has the infrastructure and maturity to go beyond our currently vested financial interests to do what is best for Bermuda and already happening around the world.

    It would be great to see an open and transparent bidding process in Bermuda around electricity generation and the opportunities to participate in our emerging eco-economy.

  7. Jus' Askin' says:

    Let’s Do It :-D

  8. Sorry Sir says:

    Put a bunch of solar panels on the roof of the bus depot or feed directly off of the incinerator and you’ll have nearly free energy once the RoI has been reached. Good long-term strategy right there.

    • Brainless Bermuda says:

      Wow someone is this country has a brain

  9. puzzled says:

    The buses in China run in cities that are flat.

    End of story.

    • nerema says:

      Oh yes of course. China is entirely flat, with no hills. Lucky you’re here isn’t it.

  10. Gustav says:

    no way
    what to do with all the mechanics
    they just want to make them jobless ( LOL )
    main question is : is BELCO able to handle that extra load ??????

  11. stormy daniels says:

    Dont confuse the minister anymore!

  12. mini bus guy says:

    NO no no.

  13. hybrid says:

    The bus mechanics aren’t qualified to deal with the complexity of the buses already here, wait until they have to maintain something like these.

    • cedar stump says:

      The bus mechanics struggle with a Briggs and Stratton mower engine…..hahaha. Is the Red, Black, Blue, White or Green wire positive ??????

    • Stinky D. says:

      These are less complexed

  14. Micah says:

    They really need to make sure they have cell phone chargers on every bus

  15. hrb says:

    I really like the idea of electric buses on all fronts. However IMO one or two electric busses should be tested on our roads during the super hot summer months and see how they do. Test them first before we buy them by the bushel.

  16. Bermy greens says:

    A look none of us have a say! This government makes decisions based on what they believe is right ! Not what the people think so hold your comments and let them do us! I’m voting for dune buggies next !

  17. Triangle Drifter says:

    Just think of all that fossil fuel burned to charge those wonderfully green buses each day

    • Stinky D. says:

      I agree
      If Government gets electric Buses I will invest heavily in BELco.