Funchal is well aware that the future of transport lies in energy-efficient and cleaner solutions. That is why the city sought to stimulate a local market for sustainable solutions and renew the public transport fleet with greener vehicles.
Implementing sustainable mobility
Energy is one of the defining issues of our time. There is an increased awareness that the energy sources we rely on are scarce and have to be managed. The negative impacts of transport on the environment are a key part of this issue. In this context, the city of Funchal wants to stimulate local markets to switch to green technologies and sustainable solutions. The city has lead by example with an integrated strategy to renew the public and private transport fleets and has also increased the use of alternative fuels and environmental-friendly technologies.
The main objectives of this measure were to:
- Spread knowledge of greener vehicles throughout the local market; and
- Bring new technologies and their environmental and energy-saving benefits to the public’s attention.
The rugged and steep topography of Funchal is demanding on the engines of buses, which results in soaring fuel consumption and high levels of pollutant and noise emissions. Alternative fuels and energy-efficient vehicles have not been common in Funchal except for a few private vehicles that run on liquefied petroleum-gas (LPG) and electric vehicles that are used on golf courses. However, in 2006, the public transport operator opened a new urban line in the city centre that is run with electric vehicles. This has raised public awareness of sustainable mobility. It also improved energy efficiency and the quality of the environment in the city centre. Funchal seeked to build on this initiative and expand the renewal of the public transport fleet. The city does not just see this as a crucial step towards sustainable mobility but also as an initiative that will help Portugal to achieve its emission reduction targets under the framework of the Kyoto Protocol.
Funchal has successfully completed the procurement of 5 midi-buses that helps revamping the public transport fleet to at least Euro 5 standard. These smaller buses complement the current public transport fleet well as they can replace regular buses in areas where demand is low and during off-peak hours. This is the first time that the public transport service can be adapted to specific demand patterns. An evaluation of the environmental, economic and social impacts has been carried out, as well as an assessment of the energy footprint. This asset provide Funchal with a better understanding of the measure’s contribution to enhanced sustainability and a higher quality of life.
Another major cornerstone of the measure was be the purchase of three new hybrid cars for the public transport operator and one different model to reinforce the municipal fleet. These cars were purchased so as to demonstrate the benefits of clean technology and advertise sustainable mobility. Moreover, the measure was used as a basis for two strategic studies. The first one aims to define the best long-term strategy for a more sustainable public transport fleet. The second one looks at the overhead costs the public transport provider would encounter in the outermost regions of the city. Both studies will be used by local practitioners and politicians to guide forthcoming decision-making processes and to convice european leaders of the specificities of public transport in outermost contexts.
As for the future activities relating to the measure, the Public Transport Operator will keep track of the fleet renewal strategy defined within this measure and will purchase the remaining 13 mini buses (Euro V at least), because the 5 mini-buses already owned proved to be more efficient to operate during non peak hours and on routes with less demand. ERDF will co-fund this purchase.
Moreover, further applications will be prepared in order to access incoming structural funding streams able to compensate for the ultraperiphal location of Madeira and its impacts on the public transport sector.
The key-results of the impact evaluation showed that the introduction of additional mini-buses is an efficient way to improve sustainable mobility in Funchal. Several positive environmental impacts were observed.
• Emissions have decreased during MIMOSA by 14% (CO2) to 26,3%) NOx in Horários do Funchal and by 12% (PM10) to 22% (NOx) in Municipality cars.
• The inclusion of 5 mini-buses in the PT Operator fleet has decreased the average fuel consumption of the overall fleet by 1,2%
• After CIVITAS, the mini-buses have contributed to the reductions in traffic related emissions of 1,2% (CO2), 21,8% (PM10) and 10,6% (NOx).
• The number of urban buses able to transport wheelchairs has risen by 20%.
• Unlike one would imagine at first, as the capacity of the mini buses is smaller than normal size buses, this change has impacted positively on users appraisal of comfort. Citizens feel that fleet renewal is useful and are satisfied with the comfort of the new mini-buses.
But one of the most significant successes of the measure was the award received from the European Regional Policy in 2011 which recognized Funchal as City Star for its Sustainable Fleet Strategy. Thus this MIMOSA measure was an important stepping stone towards further enhancement of the PT fleet in Funchal.