The driver of the battery operated bus currently undergoing trials in Cuenca says its performance proves that it can operate efficiently on city streets. “It’s comfortable and smooth and very, very quiet,” reports Alberto Abad, who has driven municipal buses for 38 years.
Passengers, who ride the bus for free, are also giving the bus high marks.
The electric bus, which is on loan from BYD Motors of China, is similar to models that operate in cities around the world.
In addition to Abab and passengers, the bus’ performance is being analyzed by engineering students and faculty at the University of Cuenca. The team is measuring the bus’ efficiency based on energy consumption, and its ability to navigate tight spaces and to climb inclines. The students are also interviewing passengers for their impressions of comfort, safety and on-time service.
The bus can cover about 250 kilometers on a four- to five-hour electric charge, according to its manufacturers. Although its initial cost is about 50 percent higher than for the diesel buses that will replace the current fleet of Cuenca buses, BYD and the engineering team say operational and maintenance costs are much lower. “Internationally, electric buses pay for themselves within two years and then have a much longer life expectancy,” says engineering student Jorge Merchán. “Besides these cost savings, there is the benefit of eliminating noise and exhaust pollution.”
City residents are encouraged to ride the bus and provide their opinions on its operation. The trial was scheduled to end March 2 but officials have asked BYD to continue operations until early April.
The bus operates Monday to Saturday from 8:30 in the morning, beginning at Parque La Paz on Av. Remigio Crespo. It continues to Avs. Solano and Diez de Agosto, to Parque El Paraíso and the Vicente Corral Moscoso hospital. From the hospital, it continues on Av. Doce de Abril to the El Vado bridge and into the historic district, to Parque Calderon and down Simon Bolivar.
If the final tests prove that the bus is suitable for Cuenca, bus owners will be given city subsidies to begin integrating units into the fleet.