Impacts of charging methods and mechanisms of zero emission buses on costs and level of service

To limit global warming and strive for more liveable and sustainable cities, innovative zero-emission (ZE) buses are on the rise all around the world. Different alternative vehicle propulsion methods have been introduced during the last decades. However, for now, only trolley, battery and fuel-cell electric vehicles can be classified as (on the pipe) ZE-buses.

This research focuses on battery electric buses, since they are most cost-efficient and – therefore – the most promising option for the (near) future. An important limitation of battery electric buses is however the limited range of operations due to capacity restrictions of batteries. Batteries should be (re)charged before, during and/or after daily operations.

Different charging methods, including different charging power systems are available to charge battery electric vehicles. As far as known to the authors, scientific literature focusing on the operations and charging scheduling of electric buses is scarce. In this study, a comparison of different applied charging methods for electric buses is obtained.
A ZE-bus station simulation method is developed to assess charging methods and charging regulations with regards to their impacts on a variety of costs and level of service indicators. This simulation-based method is multi applicable, since it is particularly based on general automated vehicle location (AVL) data. To demonstrate our model, a case study at Schiphol (Amsterdam Airport) is performed.
This research concludes that the shift to ZE-bus transit is involved with higher costs and passenger disturbances. Investment costs of ZE-buses increase substantially: Most electric vehicles are around 60 to 80 percent more expensive than conventional diesel engine vehicles and additional charging infrastructure investments are required. Benefits of electric operations, including vehicle propulsion cost savings up to 70 percent, are not able to compensate these high investments.
The charging method choice contain trade-offs between level of service and (vehicle and charging infrastructure) investment costs. (Slow) depot charging offers opportunities for operations on short distance lines. However, additional vehicles are required in order to replace a vehicle which should be recharged. In this respect, conventional timetables could be complied and the level of service remains unchanged.

To prevent fleet overcapacity, vehicles should be recharged fast (with high charging power) along the line. Slight charging related delays could occur, especially when the number of charging systems is not sufficient, and/or the charging times are relatively long. Bus end stations and terminals are suitable as fast charging locations, since charging time could be combined with buffer time there.

Finally, dynamic/in-motion charging offers opportunities to prevent charging related delays completely due to combined charging and operation time. This charging method is still in its infancy stage yet, so focus is more on (innovative) static charging methods now.

Find the MT-ITS presentation wih Max Wiercx and Raymond Huisman: HERE

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