The tender for the 60 BEV and 10 FCEV buses was announced in 2020 and launched the following year. This was flanked by test phases of both bus types. As a result, Wiener Linien has now ordered 12-metre buses with 60 Mercedes-Benz eCitaro BEV Buses and ten Solaris Urbino 12 hydrogen FCEV buses.
According to Wiener Linien, delivery is scheduled to take place by 2025. The public transport provider is investing 48 million euros in the purchase of the buses and the construction of fast-charging stations. Around 22 million euros of this will come from the EBIN funding programme of the Austrian Ministry for Climate Protection.
Daimler says that its Mercedes-Benz eCitaro buses will be built by the Daimler Truck subsidiary EvoBus and delivered to Vienna from next year until 2025.
The low-floor vehicles are equipped with a 392 kWh lithium-ion battery system of the latest generation (NMC 3). In addition to charging by cable, fast charging with up to 300 kW is also possible via pantograph charging.
The Solaris hydrogen model, now on order for the city of Vienna, was presented in Stockholm in June 2019. The H2 fuel cell bus comes with two electric motors with a power of 125 kW each, fuel cell modules with a power of 70 kW, a small battery and five hydrogen tanks made of composite material with a total capacity of 1,560 litres.
Solaris claims a range of up to 350 kilometres. Several of these hydrogen-fuelled buses are already under order by another Austrian transport authority, Österreichische Postbus AG, with a framework agreement to deliver up to 82 hydrogen-powered Solaris Urbino 12 Hydrogen.
The current order from Wiener Linien was preceded by tests with the respective BEV and FCEV bus models. The public transport operator said that various test drives showed that battery buses are particularly suitable for rather flatter areas with corresponding charging possibilities, while H2 buses can also be used on demanding routes with gradients.
Accordingly, nine bus lines will be converted to electric operation by 2025, while the H2 buses will enter service on line 39A already at the end of 2024.
The Urbino Hydrogen will be refuelled and maintained in the new “H2 Competence Centre” at the Leopoldau depot. The city utility and municipal authority Wiener Stadwerk says its public transport service obtains 100 % of its electricity and hydrogen from renewable energy sources.
The electrification efforts will be supported by competence centre for the battery buses that Wiener Linien is building in Siebenhirten in the south of the Austrian capital.
The company estimates the investment in this depot at 40 million euros. The facility will house charging stations for 52 electric buses, as well as infrastructure for maintenance and service activities.
Completion is scheduled for the end of 2023. Further charging infrastructure will be installed at the bus garage in the Spetterbrücke, while three fast charging stations – which are likely to be pantograph chargers for the eCitaros – will be built along the bus lines.
The Vienna public transport authority says that existing substations of the tram and underground trains will be used to supply energy to the charging stations.
Wiener Linien says that maintenance contracts have been secured for both the purchase of the 60 electric as well as 10 H2 buses. These stipulate that, while maintenance would be carried out by Wiener Linien, the risks of ongoing maintenance will be the responsibility of the respective bus manufacturers Solaris and Daimler.
The public transport authority explains that these agreements make it easier to estimate the total cost of the vehicles.
Climate Protection Minister Leonore Gewessler said: “With this new funding line, we will massively increase the share of emission-free buses in the next few years. We even want to quadruple the share by 2026. For the first time, the federal government is investing in regional climate-friendly bus transport.
This is good and important – because zero-emission buses make an important contribution to our phase-out of fossil fuels. One thing is clear: Only if we switch to renewable energies and reduce our consumption overall can we get a grip on the current energy crisis and also effectively counteract the climate crisis.”
Wiener Linien is a subsidiary of Wiener Stadtwerke GmbH that builds and operates the underground train, bus and tram network in the Austrian capital. This public transport network is used by almost two million passengers every day with a fleet of about 400 vehicles.
The Austrian capital city has undertaken numerous transport decarbonisation activities over the last few years, tackling not only public transport but also private cars, micromobility, taxis, and tourist offerings.