Santiago looking to double electric bus fleet after hitting 1,000-unit milestone

Bnamericas Published: Thursday, February 02, 2023
Santiago looking to double electric bus fleet after hitting 1,000-unit milestone

Santiago’s electric bus fleet has reached the landmark figure of 1,000 units, and authorities are now aiming to double that number to 2,000 by the end of this year.

The government's plan also involves beginning to expand electromobility services to cities other than the capital, although transport minister Juan Carlos Muñoz said that this will involve financing challenges. 

“We want our funds to reach as many cities as possible, but now they aren’t enough to cover everything,” Muñoz said in response to a question from BNamericas at the opening of a new electric bus charging terminal in Santiago’s Renca district. 

He added that this issue will be discussed in congress next month when legislators debate a new transport subsidy law. 

Santiago first introduced electric buses in November 2017 and it currently has the biggest fleet of such vehicles in any city outside China. Chile’s goal is for all public transport buses to be electric by 2040.

Muñoz also said that some of the electric bus corridor tenders for regional capitals have been awarded and the first units will start operating there soon. 

“In the future, we would like all regional and provincial capitals to have quality public transport,” the minister said. 

The transport ministry (MTT) has also announced a pilot for a green hydrogen bus in Santiago’s Red public transport system, although Muñoz said that it is still too early to introduce these units on a larger scale.

“Nowadays green hydrogen vehicles are extraordinarily expensive and uncompetitive. However, we're willing to test them and give them a chance in order to identify the areas in which we can advance,” he said during the ceremony.

Muñoz told BNamericas after the event that the government was willing to use multilateral financing to continue advancing electromobility in the country. 

“The system requires large amounts of resources. Much of them come from users through fares and others from the state through subsidies, and we're always looking to access multilateral loans as well, especially when we’re talking about new technologies,” he said. 

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