Re: Economics of electric buses
  Tony Galloway

Nah, what I’m saying is the bland assumption that the future of transport will be like the present except with electric vehicles is not a sustainable proposition, and issues like micro and nano plastic pollution will be an increasingly significant consideration across the board. That means plastics from all sources, not just tyres.

The problem is that tyres rely on the friction with the road to maintain traction and directional guidance, while steel wheel on rail is mechanically steered by the flange. High traction tyres by definition wear out more quickly as softer rubber has higher grip, something that motorcyclists who buy cheap, hard wearing tyres discover by the medium of pain. A mate of mine has “economy” tyres on his car (on it when he bought it), which he usually only drives when it rains as he prefers riding his bikes. He describes them as “useless rim protectors” in dry weather and “like driving on black ice" when wet. So harder wearing tyres aren’t the answer, the last thing we need is more badly driven road vehicles with skatey tyres. Unless there are big developments in biologically derived plastics that are non-toxic and biodegradable for use in tyres this will shift the paradigm for heavy haulage tasks, freight or passenger, in favour of rail.

What that means is the point at which using rail over road becomes “economic" shifts greatly in the favour of rail, leading to tramway being considered as the preferred surface mode in many situations where buses would now be considered the only option, and also incentivises the production of much lighter road vehicles to reduce tyre generated pollution. By any definition a bus laden with batteries is a heavy vehicle so the point at which a tramway becomes preferable to a trolleybus or battery bus route shifts down the demand scale.

And, of course, the materials needed to build a road that can carry a heavy vehicle, concrete and bitumen, are themselves serious emitters of pollutants when being manufactured so that is another factor against the continuing proliferation of road transport in any form resembling the present overwhelming dominance of the mode.

Regarding Brisbane, we all know the decision to use BRT was not based on any economic or ecological considerations, and is on the wrong side of history. Even Curitiba, the Brazilian city that became the poster child for BRT, is converting it to LR to increase capacity and cut pollution.

Tony.

> On 18 Sep 2022, at 13:03, TP historyworks@...> wrote:

>

> Yes to your points too, the only thing being that buses go lots of places that trams don't, or physically or economically can't, that being the whole genuine justification for buses. Are you suggesting then that buses have steel wheels (without the rails)? It's also worth pointing out that those rubber tyres can take buses up steeper hills than trams can manage. Perhaps we can compromise on caterpillar tracks.

>

> By some fluke good luck, I actually had a long conversation with the Councillor in Brisbane City who is in charge of the "metro" project. I gave him some figures (from e.g. Gold Coast, CSELR) on tram vs bus system capacity per hour that, I could tell, left him speechless. Not his fault, I think the bus boosters working for the council simply hadn't bothered to do anything more than shallow investigation and, even if they had gone as far as to discover the facts, kept it quiet from the council so as not to undermine their case. By comparison with CSELR's potential of 12,500 passengers per hour, or even Gold Coast's potential 4,800 per hour, the "metro's" 3,000 per hour looks rather puny. I also said, innocently of course, that I found it strange that Brisbane, with a population of 2.5 million, was buying a transit system with lower capacity than Gold Coast with a population of 650,000.

>

> Then of course, good old Melbourne comes along with a new tram with no more capacity than a Brisbane "metro" bus. [facepalm]

>

> Tony P

>

> On Sunday, 18 September 2022 at 12:14:46 UTC+10a...@... http://aapt.net.au/ wrote:

> Yes to all your points.

>

> The unacknowledged problem though with all electric buses, whether powered from wires or batteries is they are not without emissions as tyre wear, as with all road vehicles, is an enormous and ignored producer of micro and nano plastic pollution, which contains, apart from the toxins in synthetic, petroleum derived plastics, the known carcinogen carbon black :

>

> Car tyres produce vastly more particle pollution than exhausts, tests show | Pollution | The Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/jun/03/car-tyres-produce-more-particle-pollution-than-exhausts-tests-show

>

> Also the tyre-to-road friction of road vehicles is much greater than with steel wheel on rail, so electric buses are still well behind trams in efficient energy use. An electric bus is still superior to a diesel or gas bus, but a proper cost/benefit analysis that doesn’t dismiss all pollutant and energy consumption factors as “inconvenient externalities” in the way of a predetermined outcome greatly reduces the perceived advantages of road over rail based transit.

>

> This would reduce the appeal of solutions in search of problems like the stupid Brisbane bus bogusbahn, which would in any rational situation be electric LRT.

>

> Tony

>

>

>> On 17 Sep 2022, at 22:43, TP histor...@... <applewebdata://94375F59-5E02-4C8A-8BDB-F9E391E0F72A>> wrote:

>>

>

>> We see a lot of marketing blah nowadays about electric buses, much of it being driven by propagandistic stuff coming out of China which is accepted uncritically by many of the newbies to electrification in the industry. We don't see much comparative study that should be mandatory when approaching new technology. This work is normally done in Europe which, of course, has had well over a century of experience with electric transit, but that is typically ignored outside Europe as being "outdated", with the trolley bus being a particular laughing stock.

>>

>> We do have a basic picture that the WOL cost of a battery electric bus is similar to that of a diesel bus, but it's not so publicised that a battery electric bus costs a lot more upfront (though much cheaper to maintain), has a restricted passenger capacity because of its weight, has significant downtime and needs a battery bank renewal at eye-watering cost around half-life of the bus, thus also shortening the life of the bus because it's uneconomic to replace the batteries a second time late in the life of the bus.

>>

>> We rarely see this quantified, because it doesn't suit the marketing agenda of the battery-electric bus proponents, but recently a Czech manufacturer of electric drive equipment, Cegelec, has released a short paper comparing the relative costs of battery-electric (overnight charge), battery-electric (opportunity charge) and trolley (in-motion charge) buses.

>>

>> https://www.cegelec.cz/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/Trolejbusy-nejlepsi-reseni-elektromobility-EN.pdf https://www.cegelec.cz/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/Trolejbusy-nejlepsi-reseni-elektromobility-EN.pdf

>>

>> Particularly interesting is the bar chart which contains the sort of information that the authorities in Wellington and Brisbane, for example, should have properly considered before they made the decisions they did. If due process had been followed properly, Wellington should still have trolleybuses and Brisbane should have built a trolleybus system for the fixed routes traversed by its double articulated buses. (The Hess bus model that they're buying actually has a trolleybus version as well.)

>>

>> Of course, it's difficult to convince a city to build a system with overhead wires from scratch, but some cities like Prague and Berlin are because they have a power supply already in place from their tram systems and, with the modern dynamic charging trolleybus, the whole of a route doesn't need to be wired any longer.

>>

>> This has its parallels in the tram sector where not dissimilar irrational proposals are argued and implemented, despite the fully overhead-wired method being the cheapest (in both capex and opex) and most reliable to operate. The in-motion charging (e.g. Parramatta) option is second best, but the fully battery/opportunity charge method (e.g. Newcastle) is a poor choice.

>>

>> The 350 or so cities with trolleybuses are extremely fortunate to have their existing asset because they have a large and more cost-effective head start on bus electrification compared with non-trolleybus cities.

>>

>> Tony P

>>

>>

>>

>

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