(ffm) They stand out. And that's what they're supposed to do: the five new electric buses that will take over service on bus line 75 starting December 9. With their brightly coloured design and smart inscriptions such as "Ich bin ein Stromer" (I am an electrician), they are strikingly advertising on their own behalf. Mayor Peter Feldmann and Bernhard Maßberg, head of department at the Hessian Ministry of Economics, Energy, Transport and Regional Development, presented the buses on 27 November at the Rebstock depot of the municipal company In-der-City-Bus GmbH (ICB).
"We can be proud that Frankfurt is the first city in Hesse to convert an entire bus line to electric operation," Feldmann emphasized.
"If we want to achieve relief from exhaust fumes and noise for the people in the inner cities, then there is no way around electric mobility," says Maßberg.
Five buses are needed for the Ringlinie 75, which connects the Bockenheimer Warte, the Westend university campus, the Palmengarten and the Botanical Garden.
The buses are equipped with a battery capacity of 240 kWh, which corresponds to a range of 150 kilometers per day. This is sufficient for use on Line 75, so the bus batteries only need to be recharged overnight at the depot.
Since Line 75 connects the two university locations at the Bockenheimer Warte and in the Westend, up to five buses are in use there during the lecture period. During the lecture periods, up to 2600 passengers per day use this line. During semester breaks, one bus is sufficient, so that electric buses can then also be tested on other lines.
Local transport 80 percent electric - high environmental standards
"Today, Frankfurt's buses and trains are already making a major contribution to environmentally friendly mobility in Germany's commuter capital with a dense network and modern vehicles," notes Klaus Oesterling, head of the city's transport department. "The majority of local transport services in Frankfurt have already been provided electrically for decades by suburban trains, underground trains and trams - in 2017, this accounted for around 80 percent of our passengers' journeys. And we will continue to expand this. That's why we're extending tram line 14 through Kleyerstraße to Gustavsburgplatz starting in December, and why we expect to replace bus line 30 trips between Lokalbahnhof and Friedberger Warte with reinforcements for tram line 18 starting in December 2019."
Tom Reinhold, managing director of the municipal public transport company traffiQ, added: "The bus fleet of around 370 vehicles is one of the most modern and cleanest in Germany - EEV Standard 1 is a matter of course, and a third of the buses already meet the Euro VI standard." As traffiQ sets clear targets for the maximum age of the vehicles and average age of the bus fleet, the number of Euro VI buses is also steadily increasing. "From December, ICB will therefore be able to completely switch to buses with the high Euro VI environmental standard on lines 64 and 36, which run in the inner city, which is particularly polluted by particulate matter, and within the Anlagenring," announced ICB Managing Director Alois Rautschka. On Line 30, which also crosses the city centre, around two-thirds of the buses will be Euro VI.
From the timetable change, the fleet will now grow to include the five battery-electric buses, before the first three hydrogen-powered buses are expected to be delivered to Frankfurt in summer 2019. By 2030, all of Frankfurt's local transport is to be provided without local pollutant emissions.
"The complete conversion of Line 75 to e-buses will release around 200 tonnes less carbon dioxide (CO2) and 640 kg less nitrogen oxide (NOx) into the environment each year. This is a significant contribution to reducing air pollutants in Frankfurt am Main," explains Mayor Feldmann.
Decisive contribution: 760,800 euros in state funding
The additional investment costs of ICB in the buses and the charging infrastructure amount to around 1,900,000 euros. The state of Hesse is funding the project with 760,800 euros. The grant is earmarked for the procurement of the buses and for the construction of the charging infrastructure required for their operation. A term of at least eight years is planned for both.
With its fixed routes and high mileage, inner-city bus transport is ideally suited to relieving inner-city areas of exhaust fumes and noise. However, the acquisition of electric buses is still associated with significant additional costs; the necessary charging infrastructure is also often lacking. In order to support the Hessian bus transport companies in this regard, the Hessian Ministry of Transport is providing five million euros in subsidies annually - making Hesse the first federal state to have its own subsidy program for electric buses. It can thus support a milestone on the road to electromobility in Frankfurt.
Feldmann welcomes the project jointly run by traffiQ and ICB and the funding from the state: "E-mobility has existed in Frankfurt with the tram for more than 130 years. But the procurement of five battery buses is the finally necessary introduction to alternative drive technologies in urban bus transport. The funding opens up the opportunity to reduce local emissions from inner-city transport in Frankfurt am Main through the use of these vehicles."