I have a special place in my heart for Holland, because my dad was born there. Look at my name. I also have a special fondness for electric buses. And Israel. Any transportation system that can get diesel and cars off the road is a plus in this environmentalist’s books. So the news that Israel will help Holland and its bus fleet go electric makes me very happy in three ways.
Egged Europe entered the Dutch market in 2011 as EBS after it had won the bid to provide public transit services to the Waterland region in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area. There, the company employs around 1,000 people and manages a fleet of 400 buses that drive almost 22 million miles each year, according to material on the Egged website.
Israel’s largest bus company Egged started the new “eco” bus franchise in the Dutch city of the Hague, which adds to two other bus lines already operating around Amsterdam and Rotterdam.
Egged’s Dutch subsidiary EBS has established six electric bus charging stations in Delft and Zoetermeer to support the fleets. In Israel Egged is known for going on strike now and then but it has been lauded for its experimenting with electric buses as part of its fleet. I have seen them cruising around Jaffa where I live, smokeless and quiet. The diesel counterparts emit large amounts of dangerous particulate waste, and they are noisy to boot. In a city that really never sleeps quieter buses make the difference between yelling and talking loudly when you are walking down the street. A lot of people in Tel Aviv have apartments that face the street so the ongoing battle of keeping the outside of the city outside the living room is real.
There are some novel elements of the Egged bus fleet in Holland: buses in the EBS fleet travels 400 km every day making them the longest range public buses in the world.
Egged chairman Avi Friedman said that, “Egged is the first and only Israeli company to decide to take the knowledge and experience it has gained in Israel and use it to operate transport lines in Europe. The move that began about 12 years ago as an adventure has become a great success.”
The company stated that it has plans to open operations in Poland as well.
By 2030 the Netherlands expects that each and every one of its buses will be electric! This is from a country that values getting around by canal cruise and going almost everywhere when possible by bike. Ever see those glow in the dark bike paths in Holland?
Another venture to provide public transport on a smaller scale, ViaVan, a joint venture of Mercedes-Benz Vans and the US startup Via (founded by Israelis), plans to convert all its fleet to electric fleets by 2025. ViaVan already is a more environmentally friendly choice than a regular taxi due to the ridesharing concept. In Berlin, only fully electric vans are to be used from the end of 2020. In Amsterdam, users say ViaVan helps supplement night travel when the buses operate less or are non-existent. According to locals ViaVan is a cheap alternative for regular street taxis in Amsterdam, making it especially popular among students.
I love the idea that Israel’s tried tested and true buses will be driving around Europe. One thing I do hope they won’t export is the loud speakerphone announcing the next stop. The bus drivers turn it on while the door of the bus is still open, “Line 10 to Tel Aviv!” the recorded message screams through my street. We’ve gotten used to it the same way I got used to the Dutch cuckoo clocks announcing the hour every hour throughout the night as I grew up. My friends waking up with blue rings around their eyes ask… “How can you sleep in this house?”
The truth is I didn’t notice a thing, but loud city sounds should be reduced as much as possible because terrible noise is something we should need to get used to. Electric buses can help a great deal as well as removing speaker announcements that emit outside the bus. We’d love to be able to hear our birds and cuckoo clocks.