From emissions to efficiency: Bus makers sign up to UITP charter

In an effort to move from 20th century concerns about automotive emissions from buses to higher efficiency of operation, the big names in the bus industry have come together to endorse the Sustainable Development Charter of the UITP in Dubai.

At the ongoing 59th World Congress and Mobility and City Expo of the UITP, the international association of public transport, in the Emirate, eight major bus manufacturers became signatories to the UITP Sustainable Development Charter on Wednesday. It is the first time bus manufacturers have taken such a commitment and decided to do this as a group to show that their industry supports this programme, a press release said.

CEO’s and Senior Managers from Daimler Busse/EvoBus, Irisbus Iveco, MAN Truck & Bus, Scania, Solaris Bus & Coach, Temsa Global, VDL Bus & Coach and Volvo Bus Corporation signed up to the Sustainable Development Charter in the presence of Alain Flausch, UITP President and Hans Rat, UITP Secretary General, at the end of the energy-related session, entitled “Don’t waste your energy!” at the 59th UITP World Congress.

The press release quoted Hans Rat, UITP Secretary General as saying “We welcome this joint effort.” “Walking around the Mobility & City Transport Exhibition you will see all the new technologies being used for buses and the decision to join the Charter shows that their commitment is more than ‘skin deep’.”

Hakan Karlsson, CEO and President of the Volvo Bus Corporation (which has a growing presence in India with city and inter-city bus offerings) and acting chair of ACEA’s Bus Group for General Managers said, “Energy use from buses has decreased by 30 per cent over the last 30 years, emissions have decreased by 90 per cent and the focus nowadays is going from emissions to energy. There are several ways to reduce environmental impact and the Sustainable Development Charter Reporting Framework will allow us to monitor all new technologies and organise experienced feedback for the whole sustainable development sector.”

The move initiated by the bigger bus manufacturers toward the Sustainable Development Charter is expected to encourage smaller manufacturers to follow suit.

The UITP said it welcomed five other UITP members signing as Full or Pledge members of the Charter. Other signature ceremonies took place in the Indian and Turkish regional workshops and the North American lunch, bringing the total to 15 new signatories and 3 Pledge moving to Full signatories.

The UITP Sustainable Development Charter was launched in 2003 at the 55th UITP World Congress in Madrid. From 33 pioneer signatories, this has now grown to more than 150 adherents, including operators, organizing authorities, associations, the service and supply industries from 37 countries world-wide.

The Indian Scene

It is worth recalling that most of India’s ageing buses serving both in the government-owned and operated, and private networks are essentially bodies rigged on hard truck chassis. Few buses have climate control. Their fuel efficiency is also limited due to insufficient maintenance. With the plans of Daimler India Commercial Vehicles to start production of a newly designed truck for India, with prospects for a bus platform (it has a tie-up with Sutlej Motors now for bodies), the attention has turned to the absence of regulatory frameworks that will enable largescale investments in both city and inter-city operations.

Transport operations are a State subject in India, although the government headed by Manmohan Singh announced an Urban Transport Policy nearly five years ago, with the goal of persuading the States to reorganise their services. Some factors have prevented much progress on this agenda: the powerful influence of car manufacturers in India resulting in lower taxes and cheaper prices for latest international car models, the availability of ready finance to buy air-conditioned cars, political considerations preventing market prices being charged for fuel, and the low esteem of dirty, rickety public transport that provides service quality not altered for half a century (no Indian city has achieved integration of ticketing).

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