Ostrava unveils plans to modernize its bus fleet for ecological reasons

Ostrava, photo: František Tichý

The transport authority in Ostrava, one of the most polluted cities in the Czech Republic, is taking steps to reduce its share of the burden. Within the next three years it plans to modernize its bus fleet, gradually putting diesel-powered busses, which are among the worst traffic polluters, out of operation.

Ostrava, photo: František Tichý
A smog alert is almost constantly in place through the winter months in Ostrava, with producers frequently ordered to scale down production and drivers asked to leave their cars at home and use city transport in order to help alleviate the problem. However Ostrava’s largely diesel-powered buses themselves make no small contribution to the blanket of smog hanging over the city.

Now, the Ostrava City Transport Authority has pledged to change that, announcing plans to gradually phase-out diesel-powered busses in the course of the next three years. Presently the city operates close to 300 buses, of which a hundred run on natural gas and close to 200 on diesel. The worst polluters are the diesel-powered busses which the transport authority wants to replace first, by electric-powered busses and smart trolley busses that use batteries and need not be connected to overhead wires. The busses that run on natural gas, and are more environmentally friendly, will go in a second phase of the operation. By 2020 Ostrava should only have trams, electric-powered busses and trolley busses in operation –counting over 600 vehicles altogether. Fifty of the diesel-powered busses will be retained, though not used, in view of helping out in a potential city transport crisis.

The reason why change has been so long in coming is that electric-powered busses and smart trolley busses will cost twice as much as the present ones and their introduction will naturally mean building a reliable network of charging stations. According to present estimates the modernization of the city’s bus fleet should cost Ostrava approximately one billion crowns.