Egged bus (illustrative).
(photo credit: ILLUSTRATIVE: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The dream of hitching a ride on an electric bus may soon come true as the Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund and Environmental Protection Ministry have launched a NIS 20 million project to put 50 electric buses on the country’s roads.
Through this initiative, public bus companies will receive subsidies to buy electric buses. The subsidy amount that each company gets will depend on how many companies apply, a KKL-JNF spokesman said. He noted that the individual companies will be responsible for choosing a bus manufacturer, as well as for providing the charging infrastructure.
The e-bus initiative is the first part of a larger, NIS 400m. project to reduce air pollution, advance alternative energy use and improve quality of life. Some of the other initiatives, which are expected to be announced in the coming weeks, will involve solar panels and natural-gas-powered taxis, the spokesman said.
Israel Danzinger, director-general of the Environmental Protection Ministry, said clean transportation has the potential to affect more than just air quality. “Every polluting vehicle taken off the road is saving people’s lives,” he said. Vehicle pollution is one of the main causes for unusually high air pollution and corresponding sicknesses rates in the Haifa Bay area, according to the ministry.
KKL-JNF said that around 1,250 people die annually as a result of vehicle pollution, though it noted that air pollution is also caused by electricity generation and factories.
In 2013, the Dan bus company unveiled its first fully electric bus, with plans to upgrade 25 percent of its fleet to electric buses by 2018.
Requests to the company regarding the initiative’s status, however, went unanswered.