Alternative-fuel public transport vehicles
Ostrava’s public transport corporation (DPO) is currently using 105 new low-floor buses powered by CNG (compressed natural gas). These have replaced around one-third of the diesel buses that used to be in the fleet, bringing major environmental benefits as well as achieving substantial reductions in operating costs. The entire remaining diesel fleet is scheduled to be replaced by low-emissions (or zero-emissions) buses by 2020. The use of natural gas-fuelled buses across the fleet has been made possible by the construction of a new large-scale filling station for CNG. Its parameters (3000 Nm3 per hour, capacity 24 buses per hour) make it one of the largest and most efficient facilities of its type in Central Europe.
In accordance with the corporation’s planned investments and commitments to achieve measurable success indicators from the mobility section of the City’s Strategic Plan, by 2025 a minimum 60% of Ostrava’s public transport fleet will consist of zero-emissions vehicles (currently 54%) and at least 35% will meet EURO 6 emissions requirements (currently 17%). This will mean that by 2025, a total 95% of Ostrava’s public transport vehicles will have low or zero emissions (currently 71%).
Electric bus using the Opportunity Charging system
Since October 2018, bus route no. 64 from Svinov to the sanatorium in Klimkovice has been served by an Ekova Electron electric bus.
The bus is a low-floor, fully electric model with automatically regulated air conditioning. Its greatest advantage is that it can operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year thanks to the ultra-fast Opportunity Charging system. The bus is charged up at the new charging point when it reaches its stop in Svinov, after which it immediately sets out again on its normal route. After just 5 minutes’ charging, the bus has an hour’s extra range.
The bus can cover 12 kilometres just using its batteries if air conditioning or heating are used during the journey. If the aircon/heating is switched off, the range is up to 41 km. The bus is more reliable and quieter than diesel vehicles (diesel was formerly the standard fuel used by buses without overhead power line trolleys). If the 2 wheelchair spaces are not used (wheelchairs are heavy, and a passenger with a wheelchair can weigh up to 250 kg!), the bus can carry up to 86 passengers.
When using the Opportunity Charging system, a pantograph moves down from the charging station pylon and slots into grooves in the bus’s roof. This solution – in which the charging unit is integrated into the charging station, and is not part of the vehicle – minimizes the weight of the bus, enabling it to carry more passengers. (For comparison: the grooves in the bus’s roof weigh 15 kg, whereas the pantograph structure weighs several times that.) A low-floor bus can carry up to 86 passengers, with 2 spaces available for wheelchair users or prams. The bus and the charging station communicate via a bi-directional infra-red signalling system, which guides a pantograph mechanism into slots in the bus’s roof. The driver has to stop at a precisely marked location, after which the pantograph makes contact with the slots automatically; the driver only has to press the quick charging button on the dashboard, which also displays the progress of the charging. When charging is complete, the pantograph detaches itself (again automatically). There is no danger of driving away during charging; the system stops the bus from moving, and only unblocks it again when the pantograph has reached its upper (default) position.
This is the first ultra-fast charging station in the Czech Republic. It was supplied by the Dutch company Heliox, one of the global leaders in rapid charging solutions for public transport.
As part of the public transport corporation’s ongoing plans to modernize its fleet, in the upcoming years it will acquire around 40 new electric buses. This will help the City achieve its commitment to completely phase out diesel engines from its public transport fleet by 2020. (photo ekova.cz)
Since 2015 Ostrava’s public transport fleet has included Solaris Urbino low-floor buses using compressed natural gas (CNG) with Cummins ISLGE6 320 engines producing 239kW and meeting EURO 6 emissions requirements. The operating costs of these buses are just half the costs of running diesel buses (1 kg of CNG = 1 litre of diesel).
The buses were acquired as part of a project funded via the Operational Programme Environment whose aim was to reduce emissions from bus transport within Ostrava. Existing diesel buses were replaced by new CNG-powered vehicles, and the necessary infrastructure for CNG buses was also created – particularly the high-capacity CNG filling station, high-pressure gas pipelines, and modifications to the maintenance workshops in Martinov, Poruba and Hranečník so that CNG buses can be serviced there. The project was funded via the Operational Programme Environment, with 85% of the funding coming from the EU (cohesion funds), 5% direct from the Czech Republic’s state budget (chapter 315 – Environment), and the remaining 10% from Ostrava’s public transport corporation (DPO), which is funded by the City. The project was divided into 3 key phases: the acquisition of the new CNG buses, the construction of the CNG filling station, and the modification of the maintenance facilities. The total cost of the project was 768.4 million CZK (of which 644.0 million CZK came in the form of EU and state subsidies).
Ostrava also has 3 new CNG minibuses (Dekstra Bus Daily LE 37) supplied by the KAR Group. These buses are based on an IVECO chassis and include full air conditioning, USB points for charging phones, one space for a wheelchair or pram, and systems enabling Wi-Fi provision. The buses have a capacity of 33 passengers.
New trams – Stadler nOVA
In April 2018, Ostrava’s tram passengers experienced a real step up in the quality of services when 24 new trams made by the Swiss company Stadler came into operation, offering a higher standard of comfort and safety. The trams were designed and produced by a team that included a number of Czech technicians.
These are the first Stadler trams to be used in the Czech Republic. Ostrava’s public transport corporation announced a tender setting out very strict and demanding requirements focusing mainly on passenger comfort and safety. The high-quality Swiss trams were modified at Stadler’s Czech subsidiary to meet these specific requirements. They are low-floor (stepless) models, fully air conditioned, with an ergonomic cockpit and state-of-the-art camera and info systems (LCD monitors). Passenger comfort is enhanced by USB points for charging phones and tablets, as well as modern air conditioning and heating solutions. The rotary chassis with flexible frames ensure that noise is minimized during operation, even at higher speeds. A new feature of the Ostrava trams is wheel lubrication, which also helps reduce noise and vibrations. A Stadler tram can carry up to 188 people, 61 seated.
Projects implemented in the period 2014–2020
In 2017–2018 Ostrava’s public transport corporation (DPO) implemented 4 projects entitled “Modernization of the DPO public transportation fleet I–IV”, acquiring a number of modern zero- or low-emissions vehicles (trolleybuses, electric buses, medium-capacity trams). These vehicles were acquired using EU subsidy funding as part of the new programming period via the Integrated Regional Operational Programme 2014–2020 (call no. 20). The new vehicles are used on routes serving Hranečník, Klimkovice, Poruba and Ostrava-Jih. These projects are in accordance with Ostrava’s 2015 Integrated Mobility Plan. Public transport in the city forms part of the Integrated Transport System of the Moravian-Silesian Region (known under the acronym ODIS) and is provided by the Ostrava public transport corporation (DPO, a.s.), which continually modernizes and expands its fleet of trams, buses and trolleybuses.
This ongoing modernization of the fleet provides higher-quality services to Ostrava’s citizens and visitors, making public transport more comfortable, effective and accessible. The projects are also in line with the City of Ostrava’s Tourism Development Concept. The emphasis on low- and zero-emissions vehicles brings substantial improvements in air quality, and we are confident that the constant improvement of services will continue to boost demand for public transport, thus reducing car use – a form of transport which has a major negative impact on the environment.
The public transport corporation will acquire a further 5 zero-emissions buses and 5 low-floor CNG buses as part of call 50 of the Integrated Regional Operational Programme in connection with the 13th call in the ITI (Integrated Territorial Investment) Ostrava programme (SC 1.2). All these vehicles will be low-floor models, enabling full disabled access and equipped with video and audio systems providing passenger information. This project will improve the quality of services to passengers, motivating members of the public to made wider use of public transport as an eco-friendly alternative to cars. The corporation will also purchase 10 trolleybuses (8 x 12-metre vehicles and 2 x 18-metre vehicles), 3 electric minibuses, 3 CNG minibuses, and 5 CNG buses (12-metre vehicles). All the new vehicles will operate within Ostrava. All will be low-floor models with full disabled access and both video and audio passenger information systems.
(sources: dpo.cz and ecova.cz)