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New Electric-Powered Buses Start Trials in Athens

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The “Irizar e-mobility” is the latest electric bus being tested on the streets of Athens. Credit: Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport.

Electric buses were added to the wealth of public transport options available to residents of Athens on Monday.

The newest electric bus model being tested on the streets of Athens is from the Spanish company “Irizar e-mobility,” and is well-known for its sleek, tram-like look it projects while having the functionality of a bus.

Electric buses to roam streets of Athens

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On Monday, Costas Karamanlis, the Minister of Infrastructure and Transport boarded the new electric bus and rode its test route alongside his Deputy Minister, Giannis Kefalogiannis, and the General Secretary of Transport, Giannis Xifaras.

The new electric bus will take over a current trolleybus line on a four-week trial basis. This means that for the next month, trolley line two, “Ano Kypseli – Pagrati – Kaisariani,” will be served by electric bus.

“Let’s go towards the new era of electrification,” said Karamanlis of the new buses circulating around Athens. However, the Ministry still has its work cut out for it when it comes to deciding upon which manufacturer of electric buses is best for the streets of Athens.

So far, it has tested a total of five different makes of electric bus in Athens. Trials have been running since last September, with three Chinese bus companies and two European ones being put to the test.

Investments into the future of public transport in Greece

Funding for this new investment into the future of the Athenian public transport system has come mostly from the EU Recovery Fund. However, Karamanlis stressed that the Ministry has been working alongside OASA, the company which runs mass transportation in Athens, in choosing the best new buses for the country.

This is why trials have been held on the actual streets of Athens, in order to gauge everyday-life performance.

This caution is likely for the better, as Greece is planning to make a fairly substantial investment into electric buses for Athens. In fact, in 2022, when the buses are expected to debut on a permanent basis, the country’s capital city will have the largest proportion of electric buses in the entirety of Europe.

In real terms, the Ministry has announced that initial investment will concern the procurement of 200 to 220 vehicles for Athens.

Karamanlis also noted that the buses themselves are not the only investment Greece needs to make in order to move towards a low-emission transport service. Athens must also be fitted with the appropriate infrastructure to run these buses — meaning that charging stations must be established in bus depots and in key locations around the city.

Greece is the only European country that, in the midst of a pandemic, has significantly strengthened its fleet and routes for urban transport. In comparison to 2019, Athens has seen a 50 percent increase in mass transport vehicles, and these vehicles complete a total of 3,000 more daily trips than just three years ago.

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