The EIB (European Investment Bank) has signed off on a €73.5 million (Rs 573 crore) loan to Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona (TMB), the city’s primary public transport provider, enabling it to implement a city-wide transition to low- and zero-emission vehicles. The loan will enable Barcelona authorities to purchase 116 electric buses, 63 buses with hybrid engines and 75 buses which run on compressed natural gas, with the first tranche of vehicles set to join Barcelona’s bus network by the end of 2019.
TMB chief executive officer Enric Canas said: “The decisive support of the EIB for the current environmental renewal of Barcelona’s bus fleet…is very much focused on electrification. The 116 fully electric buses to be introduced by 2021 will enable us to convert entire lines on our main network – such as the H16 horizontal line and the V11, V13 and V15 vertical lines, as well as some local lines – to zero emissions. Electric transport involves higher initial investment costs in terms of both vehicles and infrastructure, meaning that appropriate financing from public transport authorities and financial institutions is vital.”
The integration of hybrid and electric buses into the Barcelona public transport system forms part of TMB’s wider goal of achieving a wholly zero-emission bus network while maintaining respectable levels of service quality. The project is expected to encourage citizens to increase their uptake of public transport, rather than environmentally harmful private cars: bus usage across Barcelona is said to have increased by 18 percent since 2013. Meanwhile, construction of the new vehicles is anticipated to provide 1,084 jobs for Barcelona residents.
Emma Navarro, EIB vice president in charge of both the EIB’s activities in Spain and its climate and environment-focused investment projects, said: “This project demonstrates the direct impact of EIB financing on improving people’s quality of life, strengthening public transport service and enabling low-emission mobility in the city of Barcelona. Local residents will be able to enjoy cleaner air thanks to the introduction of these cutting edge city buses. The agreement will also help create new economic opportunities in the city by improving connections and revitalising certain areas.”