The city authorities in the Albanian capital Tirana have started testing electric buses as part of efforts to lower the level of pollution in the city. The first bus that has being tested is a Polish Solaris Urbino 12 electric, which the Tirana Times newspaper said was given the Bus of the Year 2017 award.
Tirana Mayor Erion Veliaj said that Tirana is following behind the French capital Paris which tested two electric buses. “Instead of filling Tirana with tram cables or technology belonging to the 1970s, we have now decided to develop and move to modern avant-garde technology,” Veliaj told reporters during the test ride also attended by minister of infrastructure and energy and minister of tourism and environment.
The Mayor added that the replacement of public transport vehicles that use fossil fuels with electric vehicles will be a gradual process. He wrote in a Tweet that the Solaris buses that Tirana is set to buy will be equipped with comfort and safety features, such as air conditioning, ecological LED lightening and an on board monitoring system.
The Tirana city authorities have expressed readiness to work with the national government to provide incentives for the use of electric vehicles. The city has set up a number of charger stations for electric vehicles in the Albanian capital.
Electric taxis and police cars already introduced
Albanian media recalled that the Tirana city authorities licensed the first electric taxi company in September 2017 as well as a fleet of electric cars for the Albanian police, which became the only law enforcement agency to use that type of vehicle in the region and only the fifth to do so in Europe.
Speaking of the electric buses, the Mayor told bus companies that their competition is not just among each other, but also with the municipality.
The moment that an alternative with electric vehicles appears, the city will take away the licenses of operators who use diesel-powered vehicles and they have to hurry and buy electric buses before we take their clients, he said.
The introduction of electric vehicles is part of the Albanian government efforts to reduce pollution in the capital which has close to one million residents and more than 100,000 vehicles, making Tirana the most polluted area of the country.
Albania is considered to be one of the least polluted countries in Europe since its main sources of electric energy are hydropower plants. The country also has some solar power plants and its population makes extensive use of solar panels to heat water.