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Eco-driving for the public transport fleet

Funchal

Funchal’s steep hills make driving around the city expensive in terms of financial and environmental costs. To minimise the negative impacts, Funchal has worked towards fostering environmentally-conscious driving habits among drivers of both the public transport fleet and professional passenger drivers

eco-driving
Implementing sustainable mobility

In Funchal, eco-driving has largely been a little-known concept. The hilly cityscape causes high levels of fuel consumption, air and noise emissions. It is also heavy on the cars and results in high maintenance costs. This is particularly an issue for the financial sustainability of the public transport operator. Eco-driving can minimise these problems. Funchal’s public transport operator and the municipality have teamed up to design eco-driving procedures tailored to the topography of the city.

The main goals of the measure were to:

  • Study the eco-driving procedures best adapted to the specific topographic conditions of Funchal;
  • Conduct eco-driving trainings for the municipality, the local and regional public transport operators; and
  • Evaluate drivers’ performance in terms of driving attitude.

The measure consisted precisely in testing, modifying and carrying out eco driving trainings for bus drivers, drivers of the municipalities, taxi drivers and driving school drivers. Eco driving skills were also conveyed to the general public by conducting respective awareness raising campaigns in what can be considered to be a second module which was not assessed.
As a third module of the measure, the PT operator, Horários do Funchal, has developed and implemented a tutoring scheme to increase the motivation of drivers to consume less fuel and to value positive evolutions on own eco-driving skills. This module was subject to a more in depth evaluation, to sort out a holistic and comprehensive appraisal of eco driving from an alternative perspective which did not have fuel consumption as the only assessment level.

How did the measure progress?

The measure started off with a tender process to purchase software and hardware, as well as instant consumption meters to evaluate training results and demonstrate the impact of eco-driving. A system called Traffilog was bought that offers tools to save money on operational costs of the public transport fleet. It provides location-based solutions through real-time GPS data of all vehicles. The system can also send real-time alerts to the control room and the drivers, for example feedback on driving times, fuel consumption and estimated costs including maintenance.Due to the specific topography of Funchal, where narrow streets and tight turns are frequent, the Trafilog system needed to be calibrated to fit the conditions particular to Funchal streets.

In the scope of this measure, 10 buses have been equipped with the Trafilog flow meters. As the drivers were monitored, a tutoring scheme was designed and  carried out within a pilot period of 6 months in 2011. The drivers tutoring scheme was managed by the driver’s trainers who gave feedback to drivers about their performances once a week with regard to acceleration, sudden braking and accelerator position, showing what they did wrong/well and giving tips and pieces of advice supported by geo-based software tools.

Meanwhile, the Municipality of Funchal has carried out 2 training courses for eco-driving to their staff and even expanded it to other professionals like taxi drivers. Fuel consumption was monitored to keep track of the advantages of these courses.

This measure has sought to provide, thus, a valuable comparison between two different evaluation approaches with regard to Eco Driving which hardly any expert in this field can ignore.

What were the outcomes of the measure?

The main results encountered were:
• The module of eco-driving campaigns addressing Municipality drivers have contributed to reduce 6% of fuel consumption;
• The tutoring scheme bundled with a tracking record of driver’s performance has shown that bus driver’s have consumed less 3% of fuel consumption and shown a progressive and positive record of striking events (less 9% of sudden turning, 11% of overspeed; 12% of severe breakings; and 13% of sharp accelerations). Moreover, and somehow as a result of the above, the buses equipped with Trafilog software have contributed to decrease by 2% the emission levels of CO2 equivalent.

All in all, the main breakthrough of the measure was the chance to collect (and disseminate at European level through the CIVITAS network) in-depth details about driver’s driving attitude. This information is not based on classical fuel consumption parameters solely. It launches a broader and more interesting and heuristic perspective about this problematic that should be taken by follow-up cities.

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