The City of Johannesburg metropolitan municipality aims to achieve 25% less greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions and an operational cost efficiency using gas at R7/ℓ for bus equivalents, and, over three phases, create more supply chain opportunities using its ‘green’ Metrobus fleet.
“Around 2011, there were moves to usher in the transformation of Metrobuses to achieve operational efficiency. This, when it eventually took off, paralleled the increasing focus by the city on its role as a ‘world-class African city’ demonstrating leadership on environmental concerns, particularly the reduction of GHG emissions,” says City of Johannesburg green transport strategic support adviser Alex Bhiman.
The green Metrobus fleet project, he explains, was preceded by an early study on alternative fuel power for the fleet, with a view to improving cost efficiency and operational savings. With the city taking a lead on matters concerning the environment, the focus for its going green using its public transport fleet also included the concern for GHG emission reduction. These are the antecedents for the Metrobus Diesel Dual Fuel Technology (DDDFT) initiative which, to date, includes 30 converted buses and 150 newly procured buses.
The Metrobus DDDFT initiative was also intended to complement, proactively, Phase 1C of the Rea Vaya public transport system project, which comprises three phases of procurement going forward: Phase 1A in 2018, a Phase 1B in 2020 and a Phase 1C in 2023.
“These supply chain opportunities will especially include those related to renewable gas with the potential to create enterprise development and employment, as well as an increase in the local content,” he explains.
Meanwhile, Bhiman says that the air quality in Johannesburg is known to contribute to respiratory and related health problems, which, in turn, are associated with socioeconomic ills such as the loss of household income earners, leading to more child-headed households.
Therefore, with a reduction of 25% in GHG emissions, he notes, the DDDFT programme will form part of the transport sector’s contribution to achieving the city’s target of a 42% reduction in carbon emissions by 2020 and the Nationally Determined Contribution committed to at the twenty-first Conference of the Parties (COP 21), in Paris, in 2015.
Further, Bhiman says that compressed natural gas (CNG) with 95% methane content is making it possible for renewable methane resources, such as biogas, to be extracted from landfill waste. Also, an organic fraction of municipal solid waste, such as food and vegetable waste from city waste round collections, separated at the source, and waste from the fresh produce market, can become alternative fuel sources.
He notes that the city’s roadmap under the present circumstances envisages a combination of alternative fuel power for public transport: dedicated CNG buses, CNbiogas buses, hydrogen fuel-cell buses and electric buses.
“Obviously, these technologies depend on the availability of the fuel and the supply, distribution and dispensing infrastructure necessary to meet the need for a public transport service that must be able to operate to deliver the service.”
To further drive this initiative, the City of Johannesburg networks with universities, research institutions and independent organisations and private companies exploring innovations in these technologies.
The main partners of the city include the Industrial Development Corporation and the South African National Energy Development Institute, as well as the universities of South Africa, Johannesburg, and the Witwatersrand and the International Council on Clean Transport.
The City of Johannesburg also participates in the National Biogas Platform of the national Department of Environmental Affairs and the national Department of Transport’s (DoT’s) flagship programme, Tsamaya Sustainable Urban Transport National Appropriate Mitigation Action (Nama).
The Tsamaya Nama is an incubator for projects and mitigation measures on sustainable mobility in South Africa, with the City of Johannesburg being one of two pilot cities aiming to reduce emissions from urban transport.