There has been a lot to do in the past year around Keolis and the BYD electric buses. But that sentiment may change from December 13, when the 246 battery buses will run through Midden-Overijssel and Veluwe-Noord. Han van der Wal, who supervises the implementation of the electric vehicles: “All buses arrive on time, the drivers are lyrical. It is a joy to be able to accompany this. ”
Van der Wal shouldn’t have been here, he says from Keolis’ new bus depot in the Gelderland village of Vaassen. After the old fleet manager had to say goodbye, due to the irregularities around the IJssel-Vecht concession, he was hired to supervise the implementation of the electric buses. The first buses were already on the boat to the Netherlands in June and the implementation continued after it became known that Keolis the IJssel-Vecht emergency concession will be allowed to run for the next two years.
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There was also commotion about it the Chinese buses, because Dutch-made buses were not chosen, while the Netherlands also has two bus builders. Van der Wal thinks all this fuss is exaggerated. “The number of electric buses currently operating in Europe is produced by BYD per month. So they really are not AliBaba buses, as has been claimed. Everyone can think of it, but they are simply good quality buses. That is why BYD was chosen. ”
‘They are really not AliBaba buses, as has been claimed’
In short, it was a hectic year for the troubled carrier, where moreover CEO Frank Janssen has left. That is why Keolis now wants to look ahead: the electric buses will be put into service in three weeks. “And that will be fine,” says Van der Wal. “The last buses were delivered in the Netherlands on November 11, while factories in China were even shut down for a while due to corona. That is a great achievement. The drivers have been making test drives in the region for quite some time. ”
A total of 246 battery buses provide the timetables around Zwolle, Deventer, Apeldoorn and Harderwijk, of which a maximum of 10 will remain on reserve. These are 206 regular 12-meter buses with a power of 348 kW on board. The other 40 HOV buses are 13.2 meters long and have 392 kW on board. As of 1 May 2021, a further 13 midi buses will flow in, which were originally intended to run in the Lelystad city service. This brings the total to 259 pieces. The local buses will not be replaced in the next two years and will continue to run on diesel.
All e-buses run down with a pantograph, except for 18 units that will run with a pantograph on the roof in the Zwolle city service. Van der Wal: “They can all be fast charging and plug charging. They charge at 50 kW / hour via the plug and at 5 kW / minute via the pantograph, so that the driver can always leave ‘full’ in the morning. The bus can always complete a complete circuit of 200 to 500 km per day. ” The fast charging options are intended for longer lines, such as the new HOV bus line Dedemsvaart-Zwolle-Nunspeet. To this end, 25 charging points have been installed at the bus stations in Apeldoorn, Ede, Deventer, Dedemsvaart, Harderwijk and Zwolle.
The buses are characterized by luxury and comfort, Van der Wal shows, while the driver’s seat automatically adjusts to his body. By brushing a pass along a magnetic strip, the seat and backrest change to a preset position. “During the instruction rides, the driver’s favorite and most ergonomically responsible seat position is determined and stored on the staff card. When a driver gets on the bus and holds the pass near the seat, the seat automatically moves to the optimum position. That is important, because it is the driver’s workplace for a day, ”says the man who has supervised implementations for many years. “This is a new step towards a fully smart system.”
Van der Wal praises the 800 bus drivers who are eager to ride the new buses. “They can eventually make or break the system. A well-trained driver thus drives 30 percent more economically. Often there is some cold feet at the beginning, but as soon as people are informed, the enthusiasm comes. Actually, not much changes, it is mainly a matter of planning ahead. Many drivers are now really lyrical, they have the right mentality. It is a joy to be able to accompany that. ”
Wifi, usb and reading lights
Comfort for the traveler is paramount in the new buses. The buses have comfortable seats with more legroom and WiFi. A USB port is available at every seat. In addition, the HOV buses have a reading light, a folding table and individual ventilation. Van der Wal: “It looks just like a touring car.” In addition, the heating is done via infrared, so that the human body heats up much faster.
In the context of accessibility, there is an electronic wheelchair board in every bus, which the driver can activate himself from his workplace at the touch of a button. Induction loops are available in the new buses for the deaf and hard of hearing. Van der Wal is also very pleased with this. Isn’t there just one objection? Well, come on then. Those outside mirrors have not been replaced by cameras: “That will cause damage.”
Van der Wal expects travelers to be very pleased with the new buses: “My experience in other concessions is that travelers experience electric buses as quieter, more comfortable and more luxurious than diesels. That won’t be any different now. ”
Keolis is ready
With that, Keolis seems ready to drive around the region for two more years from 13 December. The carrier aims to do that as well as possible, thereby leaving the negative sentiment behind. The passenger comes first in IJssel-Vecht, says the transport company, and Keolis wants to prove that in the next two years. How things will continue after two years is not yet known. The primary focus is now on the start on December 13. Then the carrier looks further.
According to Van der Wal, the regional transporter need not be afraid that the ‘negative image’ will stick around the concession. “I have also experienced that with the tendering case for Qbuzz, NS and Veolia in Limburg. Once it all starts running, the travelers and the daily newspapers are no longer talking about it. The best rehabilitation is if the carrier simply continues to do its job properly. ”
Guus is editor-in-chief for OV-Magazine.