Strategic study on clean public transport fleets in Krakow
Krakow's public transport operator MPK developed a strategy for fleet renewal, replacing old buses with vehicles complying with Euro standards and exploring the use of cleaner fuels.
Implementing sustainable mobility
The measure focused on developing a long-term strategy for bus fleet exchange and on the transition towards clean vehicles. A comprehensive analysis of the economic and operational aspects of various types of clean vehicles was carried out in order to define the basic directions for strategy development. The results provided a sound basis for further decisions about the purchase of environmentally friendly vehicles.
The main goals were to:
- research and test new solutions in the field of alternative fuels and innovative engine systems prior to their introduction into the bus fleet on a larger scale;
- purchase and test five buses running on compressed natural gas (CNG);
- test a hybrid bus;
- withdraw, by the end of 2007, old buses not in compliance with Euro norms and replace them with environmentally friendly vehicles; and
- reduce the level of noise emitted by public transport vehicles.
In order to obtain meaningful data, MPK introduced five CNG vehicles into daily operation and acquired a hybrid bus for testing. This allowed the company to gain practical experience in using various clean vehicles based on different technologies and to compare selected operational indicators (including fuel efficiency, operational costs and noise level):
- The new bus (Jelcz M121) was officially presented to the citizens of Krakow, politicians and the local media in November 2006.
- The five new vehicles were delivered in late December 2006 and early January 2007.
- In 2007, all old buses were withdrawn and replaced by environmentally friendly vehicles. In summer 2007, hybrid and ethanol-driven buses were tested.
- In 2008, MPK purchased new Euro V buses and put them into operation.
- In 2009, MPK continued its policy of bus fleet renewal and purchased further ecological, low-floor vehicles.
Information on the introduction of the new CNG vehicles was disseminated locally and nationally in the media and related publications. The overall image of public transport in Krakow was enhanced.
Citizens' opinions on the new CNG technology were gathered.
In total, 23 SOLARIS vehicles were introduced, including five articulated 18 m-long buses (URBINO18) and 18 standard 12 m buses (URBINO12). The new vehicles replaced Euro I and II vehicles.
The CNG buses are 20 to 25 percent more expensive than equivalent diesel vehicles, and even the lower price of CNG cannot compensate for the high purchase and transition costs to make the investment cost effective.
The decision to introduce CNG technology always depends on local conditions. Based on the experience of Krakow, CNG buses can be recommended only if:
- the operator has their own filling station with a good capacity;
- maintenance facilities are adequate for CNG vehicles with respect to all safety and security regulations; and
- the terms of the contract with the CNG provider ensures seamless fuel delivery at a good price.
Taking into account the results of the one-year tests and analyses of both vehicle types (CNG and diesel), MPK experts concluded that the optimal solution for the transition towards a clean fleet is the substitution of old-generation vehicles with new diesel vehicles constructed in accordance with Euro V standards.