Green machine: Škoda unveils first E’City fully electric bus destined for Prague

Škoda E’City bus

The Czech engineering company Škoda Transportation unveiled its new electric bus at a regional trade fair this week. The first of their environmentally friendly Škoda E’City buses – which emit no Co2 or other harmful substances – are due to begin service in Prague in the new year.

The Škoda E’City is far “greener” than most electric buses now operating in the Czech Republic – which use standard diesel heating, and so still produce greenhouse gas and other harmful emissions.

The very first 12-metre-long model was unveiled by Prague’s Public Transit Company (DPP) at an exhibition centre in the Letňany district. Jan Šurovský, technical director of surface vehicles, says as of January, E’City buses will run on two well-established lines.

“They are designated mainly for lines no. 154 and no. 213. Line no. 154 runs from the Strašnická station, the terminus, where a charging track was built from the tram network. The second line, no. 213, runs from the Želivského station, another terminus. A charging track was also built here”"

The battery-powered E'City has a guaranteed range of more than 100 kilometres on a single charge, including heating (or for that matter cooling) the interior. But that range doesn’t account for idling during traffic jams, noted Petr Brzezina, president of the Škoda Transportation group.

“This electric bus can, however, also be recharged from the existing traction infrastructure, which is now used by trams and in future also trolleybuses. This is an advantage, because it prolongs the range. So, it can be recharged continuously. And then it recharges overnight at depots."

Adam Scheinherr | Photo: Jessica Petrů,  Czech Radio

Škoda E’City offers a unique two-pole charging system with galvanic isolation. In practice, this means that during the day, when the bus is most frequently in operation, its traction battery is repeatedly recharged using a pantograph – a crane-line apparatus mounted on the roof that connects to an overhead line.

Adam Scheinherr, Prague’s deputy mayor for transportation, says deploying an electric bus fleet is one of many steps underway to meet the goal of cutting harmful emissions in the Czech capital by 20 percent by the year 2024. A giant leap, if you will, by looking backward.

“It not only about the climate. This is an overall improvement in the environment – reducing harmful emissions and noise level. We’re actually going back 50 years, when the last trolleybuses, or electric traction buses, disappeared from the streets of Prague. That was a bad move.”

Billed as a “sustainable bus”, the 69-seater is also equipped with a “kneeling” system that lowers the boarding edge to accommodate people using wheelchairs and walkers, or prams, and generally makes it easier to get in and out. On top of that, the Škoda E’City is also equipped for blind and visually impaired people.

So far, the city of Prague has 14 Škoda E’City buses on order. The first passengers should start enjoying air- and noise pollution-free rides by mid-January.

Authors: Brian Kenety , Adam Bejšovec
run audio