Commuters travelling on the expanded Rea Vaya network between central Johannesburg, Sandton and Alexandra will, once this section of the city’s bus rapid transit (BRT) system is operational, be riding on buses powered by compressed natural gas (CNG). This was announced last week by City of Johannesburg strategic adviser Alex Bhiman at NGV 2014 South Africa. Rea Vaya, which means “we are going”, is the City of Johannesburg’s Bus Rapid Transit system.
Speaking at the conference on 19 November, Bhiman said that Rea Vaya’s Phase 1C expansion, once complete, “will be fully serviced by gas propelled buses … We believe it’s an appropriate technology and would like to set a good example through the use of alternative and environmentally friendly energy.” Bhiman added the move was in line with the City’s drive to prioritise green industry development and climate-friendly initiatives.
NGV 2014 South Africa, hosted by the SA National Energy Development Institute, organized by NGV Africa and NGV Communications Group, and endorsed by NGV Global, brought together leading experts in the emerging NGV sector to discuss the future of this alternative fuel and its implications for clean and affordable mobility.
Bhiman cited research showing that NGV buses effectively cut down on emissions of nitrogen oxides, sulphur and soot, which are known to be detrimental to people’s cardiovascular and respiratory systems, while majorly reducing fuel costs.
Bhiman explained the City was working on plans to build infrastructure to support the uptake of natural gas fuel in Alexandra. “We are also engaging with City parks and the Johannesburg Fresh Produce Market on the possibility of providing us with 1.5-million tons of waste for biogas production,” he said, adding that this would be provide enough energy to fuel Rea Vaya’s new NGV fleet.
NGV 2014 South Africa comes hot on the heels of the Gas Mobility Summit that was held in October at the University of Johannesburg, where Joburg Executive Mayor Parks Tau stated that the City had made the decision to convert both its public and its official transport fleets to natural gas.
Regarding Metrobus, Bhiman confirmed that the City was close to concluding a tender for 150 dual-fuelled metro buses. He added that Joburg would be spending billions of rands over the next year three years on replenishing its bus fleet.
In support of Bhiman, Lovell Emslie, a technical expert at Vaal University of Technology, said natural gas offered a 20-30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to diesel, while costing between 35-50% less.
“NGVs have lower maintenance costs,” Emslie told conference delegates. “Because natural gas burns so cleanly, it results in less wear and tear on the engine and extends the time between tune-ups and oil changes.”
(Source: Rea Vaya)