Public comment

The ICCT participates in the 19th Intelligent Transport System Asia Pacific Forum in Indonesia

On 29 May 2024, the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) organized a special interest session (SIS) at the 19th Intelligent Transport System Asia Pacific Forum 2024 in Jakarta, Indonesia. The session focused on reducing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions through the introduction of zero-emission electric buses (e-buses).

Cities throughout the Asian region have started the transition to e-buses. In India, the national government announced financing support for more than 10,000 e-buses in more than 10 cities; its goal is to deploy 50,000 e-buses buses by 2027. In Thailand, 1,200 e-buses have been operating in the capital, Bangkok, with support from a multilateral development bank. And in Indonesia, the city of Jakarta has pledged to electrify its entire bus fleet of more than 10,000 buses by 2030.

However, the transition to e-buses presents important challenges for operators and transit authorities, including technical, operational, regulatory, and financial challenges.

The session explored lessons learned on public transit electrification from case studies in India and Indonesia (the cities of Medan and Jakarta). It was organized as a discussion panel moderated by Ms. Tenny Kristiana from the ICCT; the panel included:

1. Mr. Iswar Lubis (Transport Agency City of Medan)
2. Ms. Nupur Gupta (World Bank)
3. Mr. Avinash Dubedi (WRI India)
4. Mr. Aditya Mahalana (ICCT Indonesia)

Mr. Iswar Lubis shared the experiences of Medan city in preparing to deploy e-buses to service urban bus routes. Medan has made significant efforts to transition to e-buses since 2020. It has calculated passenger travel demands and compared the total cost of ownership (TCO) of diesel and e-buses. Since early 2024, Medan has carried out a trial of four e-buses. As of mid-2024, the per kilometer cost of e-buses is still slightly higher than diesel buses, but they are expected to reach cost parity soon. Several entities, including from the World Bank, the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP), and the ICCT, have supported Medan in developing its bus electrification plan. Medan is planning to deploy 60 new e-buses soon to serve the city’s bus rapid transit (BRT) network. The city government is confident that new e-bus fleets will operate at costs comparable to conventional diesel buses.

Ms. Nupur Gupta, representing the World Bank, highlighted the importance of bus electrification to curb emissions from the transport sector. She emphasized the role of multilateral development banks in supporting the e-bus transition; the transition must be aligned with government plans for economic growth, environmental sustainability, and poverty alleviation. She further emphasized that cities considering applying for financing support from development banks should calculate the investment payback period for bus electrification. This can be done through several means, including TCO analysis. Cities should also map potential future challenges, both operational and cost related. She noted that bus ridership in Indonesia (at approximately 5%) is still relatively lower than ridership in other countries including India (which has approximately 15% bus ridership). Accordingly, the Indonesian government should consider exploring ways to encourage ways to increase ridership. For development banks like the World Bank, ridership share is crucial to lowering risks related to the payback of loans for infrastructure development and rolling stock procurement.

Next, Mr. Avinash Dubedi from WRI India shared India’s bus electrification experiences and presented policy initiatives that have driven the rapid uptake of e-buses in Indian cities. India’s attempt to bolster e-bus deployment dated to the introduction of the FAME 1 scheme in 2017. Since then, India has made substantial progress with the establishment of the national e-bus program in 2020 which led to a plan to procure 50,000 e-buses. His main message was that unique demand aggregation and spec homogenization led to the lowest rate and subsequently boosted confidence in and the development of the National Electric Bus Program (NEBP).

As discussed earlier, one of the critical tools to support e-bus uptake is TCO analysis. Mr. Aditya Mahalana from the ICCT shared the ICCT’s lessons learned from supporting Transjakarta in conducting fleet- and route-level TCO studies. Fleet-level TCO offers a comprehensive overview for bus operators and regulators in evaluating a fleet’s costs per kilometer. It also helps identify institutional and policy barriers for e-bus procurement. On the other hand, route-level TCO can provide specific costs per kilometer and energy consumption based on route characteristics; therefore, it can help operators identify detailed technical issues before they invest in e-bus procurement. One key recommendation from Transjakarta’s TCO is that to reach cost parity, contract duration between Transjakarta and e-bus operators serving the corridors needs to be extended from 7 to 15 years. Currently, the Government of Jakarta limits the maximum age for public transport fleets to 10 years. However, they are currently considering making an exemption for e-buses so they can operate beyond the 10 years limit.

A key takeaway from the session was that consistent public sector funding and private sector financing remains critical for powering the e-bus transition. Demand aggregation can be replicated by other countries to lower procurement costs. For example, in the city of Medan’s case, the costs of e-bus procurement and operation are already competitive; cost parity with conventional buses is expected soon. Lastly, TCO analysis can be a powerful tool to identify and address policy and procurement barriers.

Session materials can be found here: