The World’s Largest Electrical Bus Has Been Sitting In A Parking Lot For 3 Years


With over 200,000 electrical buses, China is the undisputed ruler of the electrical bus market. With over 16,000, Shenzhen leads cities the world over. The remainder of us are merely enjoying for second place.

And in that race, Bogota, residence to 1,485 electrical buses, is the shocking winner! The explanations should not all that good: Colombia’s capital, not like most cities of comparable dimension, determined to guess every part on buses (and is simply now constructing its first metro line). The implications of this, good and dangerous, should not throughout the scope of this text.

Regardless, this all-in guess implies that Bogota has needed to work to make buses work, and regardless of all its flaws, it at present presents a dependable and easy-to-use bus service with almost full protection. Lately, the town went by way of the trouble of buying almost 1,500 electrical buses to enhance service, scale back air pollution, and ameliorate driving situations. To this point, the choice appears to have been a hit, and the buses work precisely as meant.

Picture courtesy of Metropolis of Bogota.

However, sadly, not all information is sweet, as the town has stored the biggest electrical bus — a 27-meter-long, bi-articulated, LFP-powered, BYD electrical bus — sitting in a parking zone since 2019. The explanations are initially bureaucratic, and to grasp them, we first have to level out the variations between the 2 bus programs in Bogota:

Transmilenio & SITP

Transmilenio and the Built-in System of Public Transport (SITP) collectively compose the general public transportation system in Bogota. These days, they work beneath the identical umbrella, however their histories differ, and so they come from totally different locations.

Transmilenio, the oldest of the 2, was born in December 2001 as a BRT answer for essentially the most crowded avenue within the metropolis and a substitute for carry individuals from the north and west peripheries of the town into the middle, nevertheless it has expanded considerably since then. It operates with articulated and bi-articulated buses that may carry as much as 260 individuals every and, as any BRT, journey inside unique lanes. Oh, and so they’re pink.

SITP was born in 2012 to switch the chaotic personal bus system that had existed within the metropolis because the Nineteen Sixties and to supply an built-in system with Transmilenio (beforehand, for those who took a bus after which a BRT, you needed to pay the 2 fares); as such, it operates common buses (as much as 120 passengers) that trip alongside private automobiles. And it’s the SITP, not Transmilenio, that at present owns and operates these 1,495 buses that we spoke of earlier than. In contrast to Transmilenio, the SITP doesn’t have a singular shade, although most of them are blue (and a few of the electrical ones have been painted inexperienced).

It was Mayor Enrique Peñalosa who initially proposed Transmilenio again in 1998, and it was him as soon as once more who began the electrification of the system, as someplace round half the electrical buses bought have been deliberate throughout his second time period (2016–2020). And but, it was that very same mayor who blocked any likelihood of getting articulated and bi-articulated electrical buses, claiming that the expertise was “not but confirmed.” He blocked BYD from the bidding organized in 2019 for the renewal of the BRT fleet.

Mayor Enrique Peñalosa throughout an occasion held within the Portal de Suba patio-workshop. Picture courtesy of Metropolis of Bogota.

BYD’s Trials

BYD was the primary supplier of the electrical buses bought for the SITP. The corporate clearly hoped to change into a supplier for Transmilenio as effectively — regardless of Mayor Peñalosa’s refusal — and to clear any doubt, it despatched an articulated electrical bus for a trial in 2017. For 2 years, the bus operated with no points, and but BYD wasn’t thought of for the bidding. In case you’re questioning, the 18-meter-long bus averaged an effectivity between 0.82 and 0.94 kWh/km, relying on the kind of service supplied.

However the firm was not going to surrender so simply (in spite of everything, it made a killing with the SITP biddings), and in 2019 it doubled down on its guess, bringing a high-floor bi-articulated electrical bus referred to as K12A, the primary of its variety and the one one ever constructed by then. After which … nothing occurred. The bus by no means received to satisfy the streets of Bogota, to listen to the sound of the jams and claxons amidst site visitors, nor to really feel the impatience of those that’re taking BRT as a result of they’re late for a gathering (and I’ve been one among them) … as a result of it was by no means allowed to depart the parking zone.

The explanation? Bogota’s strict laws has a weight restrict for BRT buses, which this one, simply barely, surpassed.


The Colombian Institute for Technical Requirements and Certification (ICONTEC) supplies technical requirements for, effectively, every part within the nation. Within the case of the articulated and bi-articulated buses, the usual known as ICONTEC NTC-4901, and it requires that they might not weigh greater than 40 tons. Which is a matter, as a result of BYD’s K12A bus weights 44 tons.

This norm was reviewed in 2016 and the higher restrict elevated so {that a} bus like this one might function. Nonetheless, 7 years after this reality, the Ministry of Transport has not but adopted the brand new laws, and the biggest electrical bus on the earth stays in a parking zone, ready for the time when it would lastly be allowed to serve its goal.

When requested in September 2022, the Ministry of Transport indicated that the problem “is being reviewed.”

Hydrogen Bus Pilot

Regardless, Bogota stays dedicated to greener, cleaner public transportation and, regardless of already having a confirmed answer, the town has began a pilot with a regionally assembled gas cell hydrogen bus (although, the cells are actually imported, and the supply wasn’t supplied). The bus, to be joined by 13 extra within the following years, might be powered with inexperienced hydrogen produced regionally. This pilot goes hand in hand with the Colombian authorities’s guess on inexperienced hydrogen as a substitute for change oil and coal exports, primarily based upon a budget electrical energy that may be produced on the windy and sunny Caribbean coast. Whether or not that guess might be folly or will succeed, it stays to be seen.

For the subsequent 8 years, the buses will function in Bogota to supply data on their value, their necessities, and their limitations in excessive altitudes.


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