On the 17 June 2015 Karlstadsbuss started to operate three environmentally friendly Optare Solo electric buses. The buses will operate on the centre lines 11, 12 and 13 in Karlstad, Sweden. The electric buses are emission-free and save about 80% energy when compared to an equivalent diesel or gas bus. The bus is powered by green electricity generated by Karlstad energy. The noise levels from the vehicle are very low, giving a comfortable ride and contributing to a pleasant urban environment.
Peter Kullgren (KD), chairman of City Planning, said, "Karlstad is one of the first cities in Sweden and Europe to focus on pure electric buses. The initiative is an important step towards a sustainable Karlstad."
Mattias Bergh, head of Karlstadsbuss said, "As more people choose public transport, we saw a need to acquire more buses. As the larger gas-fuelled buses were needed on the heavier lines, we saw an opportunity to use smaller buses on the centre lines. Electric technology proved to be a viable and competitive alternative."
The 9.2m Optare Solo EV, has 25 seats and a wheelchair bay. The wheelchair ramp is located at the wide front door. This means that all passengers board the bus through the front doors.
Although smaller in size, just like the large buses, there is space for strollers, walkers and wheelchairs. The Optare Solo EV is also equipped with air conditioning, free wifi and Bus TV.
Robert Sahlberg, business development manager at Karlstadsbuss, said, "We wanted to make environmentally friendly travel comfortable and fun."
The buses will be charged overnight plus a 15 minute fast charge during driver breaks every two hours. The fast charging means the bus can meet the planned service and provide plenty of power for the Karlstadsbuss advanced information systems. The fast charging station is still under construction and is expected to be completed during July. The new electric buses will therefore, gradually be phased into the regular traffic during the summer.
Bengt Åström, President of Förenade buss AB said, "The electric buses are a little more expensive to buy, but this is offset by lower costs for operation, service and maintenance. The drivers' experiences of the buses have been very positive and they have particularly highlighted how smooth and quiet the buses are."