As a leading bus company in the public transport sector, PostBus wants to take a pioneering role in alternative drive systems. It’s our way of exercising sustainable corporate responsibility towards society. To do so, we rely on cooperation from policymakers and public authorities to ensure we can jointly meet the public’s expectations. The first step will see us putting a total of 100 battery and fuel cell buses into operation by 2024. The long-term intention is for all our Postbuses to run without reliance on fossil fuels.
PostBus depends on support from the cantons as purchasers of the service range as well as other partners in promoting alternative drive systems. Electric buses currently cost around twice as much to procure as diesel buses. Building the charging infrastructure is complex and cost-intensive. PostBus cannot bear these additional costs on its own and requires the financial commitment of the purchasers.
PostBus has already put a few electric buses into operation as part of pilot projects. We now want to take the next step and convert whole depots or route groups to alternative drive system vehicles. Our ambition is to put a total of 100 battery-powered and fuel cell buses onto the roads by 2024. PostBus has completed the first letters of intent with local energy service providers to this effect.
Battery-powered buses only have an electric motor, which takes the energy to propel the bus from a battery. The battery is charged from the power grid, once or several times each day.
Our current fleet of battery-powered buses
Battery-powered electric Maxibuses are operating in Interlaken, Sarnen and Saas-Fee. In Saas-Fee, two vehicles carry winter sports enthusiasts from the bus terminal to the cable car station. Unlike the shuttle service at Saas-Fee, the electric vehicles at Sarnen and Interlaken are postbuses that operate on scheduled routes. The batteries of the vehicles in Saas-Fee and Interlaken are charged in the garage. Additional top-up charging of the postbus in Sarnen is possible at the terminus in Alpnach, because the vehicle's waiting time there is long enough.
A battery-powered electric school bus has been operating in Val Poschiavo since the start of 2019 to transport the valley's children to school. The seating in this vehicle is interchangeable, so it can also be used for hiking groups in summer during the school holidays.
The self-driving shuttles in Sion are also powered by electric batteries. They have been operating in Sion's inner city area since June 2016.
100 percent of the electricity for all the battery-powered PostBus vehicles comes from renewable energy sources within Switzerland.
Battery-powered buses for Graubünden
In Graubünden, PostBus signed a memorandum of understanding with the energy provider Repower in 2019. The goal of this collaboration is to electrify one entire PostBus route or a group of routes in the Bündner Herrschaft region. For financing, PostBus is reliant on the canton of Graubünden as stakeholder in the services offered. The political processes are under way.
Battery-powered buses for Ticino
A memorandum of understanding on electrifying PostBus routes is also in place in Ticino. The partner here is the Azienda Elettrica Ticinese (AET), the local electricity utility. The partners are focusing primarily on introducing battery-powered buses in the Bellinzona region. As the first step, one single local transportation route (Trasporto Pubblico del Bellinzonese – TPB) is to be equipped with electric postbuses. At a later stage, all local transportation vehicles in Bellinzona and the surrounding area should operate without fossil fuels.
Battery-powered buses for the Sursee-Lake Sempach-Rottal area
The Lucerne public transport operators' association (Verkehrsverbund Luzern VVL) asked its concessionaire transport companies to clarify which routes could possibly be converted from diesel buses to electromobility. VVL has since reached a decision on the five routes that are to be operated with a total of ten electric buses in the future; the vehicles' batteries will be charged in the depot. PostBus is responsible for operating the service on two of these routes. If everything goes according to plan, the new vehicles should go into service as from the end of 2021.
Fuel cell buses and diesel hybrid buses
Fuel cell buses and diesel hybrid buses
Hybrid buses feature at least two different energy converters (such as an electric motor and fuel cell) and are equipped with two different energy storage systems within the vehicles (e.g. battery and hydrogen tank). The hybrid bus category includes fuel cell buses and diesel hybrid buses.
Fuel cell buses (project completed)
PostBus is the first Swiss company to have implemented fuel cell technology in public transport. In a long-term test between 2011 and 2016, five fuel cell Postbuses were in operation on PostBus routes in and around Brugg (Canton of Aargau). The hydrogen required was almost 100% generated using electrolysis powered by energy from renewable hydroelectricity. PostBus successfully completed the project by the envisaged deadline of five years (press release from 01.02.2017). 1,540 tonnes of CO2 emissions were averted over the course of the project.
Our current fleet of diesel hybrid buses
PostBus has been operating diesel hybrid buses since the end of 2011. At present, more than 50 buses of this type are operating throughout Switzerland on routes with high stop-and-go frequencies. When the vehicle brakes, the braking energy can be recovered; when the bus starts up, it is mainly the electric motor that is used. These two features reduce diesel consumption on these routes by as much as 25 percent.