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Osnabrück: Five years of electric bus operation – a positive feedback

© Dirk Budach

On 30 March 2019, Stadtwerke Osnabrück opened its first electric bus route with its MetroBus line “M 1” from the Haste district via the city centre to the Düstrup district. After five years, they are now drawing a positive balance. Original quote: “The e-buses score particularly well in terms of technical availability and sustainability indicators.”

The first articulated electric bus (no. 201) had already been delivered in 2018, and all thirteen coaches required were available for the opening of operations. They were all supplied by manufacturer VDL from the Netherlands and are of the “Citea SLFA 181/electric” type. SLFA stands for: S = standard, LF = low floor, A = articulated, 181 = length in decimetres. We also know this type in large numbers from Cologne’s KVB.

22 October 2018: Stadtwerke Osnabrück present the first e-bus 201 to the press | © Stadtwerke Osnabrück
E-Bus charging at Haste terminus with no. 212 on 12 November 2019 | © Stadtwerke Osnabrück

The e-buses are not only designed for overnight recharging at the depot, but also for recharging en route. This is done via a pantograph mounted on the roof of the bus, which rises to a “funnel” of the charging station above the bus – this is where the electrical contact between the bus and the charging station is made.

Stadtwerke Osnabrück now has 62 of these VDL articulated electric buses, the last 27 of which were put into service at the turn of 2021/2022 for the M 4 and M 5 MetroBus lines. They cover around 3.6 million emission-free kilometres per year, saving around 2,100 tonnes of CO2 annually. The electric articulated buses enjoy the nickname “Gentle Giants”. CFO Dirk Eichholz: “Our electric buses are therefore making an important contribution to climate protection and better air quality in Osnabrück.”

One diesel bus has been decommissioned for each of the electric buses. The bus fleet has therefore become significantly cleaner.

Furthermore, as Stadtwerke Osnabrück emphasises, the electric articulated buses are in no way inferior to the diesel buses when it comes to their technical availability. “They master all of Osnabrück’s weather challenges.” 39.5 degrees Celsius in July 2019, minus 15.9 degrees in February 2021, wind force 12 in February 2022 – Osnabrück’s electric articulated buses didn’t really care.

Thus Stadtwerke Osnabrück concludes: “We were and are able to completely dispel the fears and concerns expressed when the electric buses were put into operation.”

Osnabrück’s plans for the future

A further 19 electric buses are expected to be delivered from summer 2025, this time 12-metre-long solo buses. These will increase the proportion of electric buses in Osnabrück’s fleet to an impressive 94 per cent, with only 5 (!) of a total of 86 buses still running on diesel oil. Stadtwerke-mobil Managing Director André Kränzke: “According to the latest e-bus radar, we are already one of the top 20 e-bus cities in Germany and are a nationwide electric bus pioneer. We want to and will continue to write this success story in and for Osnabrück.”

© Carsten Krebs
Swift and silent: operation in downtown Osnabrück | © Dirk Budach

We last reported on Osnabrück’s e-buses here: