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Hypocritical capital: Berlin relies on dirty diesel buses

The city is getting 291 new buses. All of them run on diesel engines. This contradicts the promise of the Green Senator for the Environment to ban all internal combustion vehicles from the city by 2030.

Berlin's environment senator Regine Günter (Greens) wants to ban all internal combustion vehicles from the city's inner ring road by 2030. Buses, too, are to run on electricity by then, of course. So why is the city getting 291 new diesel buses this year?

Günther's answer is that the diesel buses were ordered years ago. At that time, the 2030 goal of an internal combustion engine-free Berlin did not yet exist. Of course, the contract would have to be honoured. But even if the order were placed today, the Green politician's choice would not necessarily be different. Because the double-deckers needed are still not available as electric versions. Therefore, the bus fleet will probably not be electrified in the near future either. At the earliest, there will be a new delivery of electric buses in 2022.

About 1400 diesel buses belong to the fleet of the Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG). The number of electric buses is negligible in comparison: there are only 137 electric buses so far. These operate on comparatively short routes, as the range of the electric buses is not sufficient for many routes.

Optimally, the new diesel buses should be used for 12 years. This duration is the most economical. However, this means that the buses will continue to pollute Berlin's city air with their diesel engines even after 2030. To meet the self-imposed goal of Berlin without combustion engines, the buses would either have to be converted or sold. What this will cost the taxpayer is still completely open.

On the other hand, it is clear that public transport in Berlin is still miles away from a climate-friendly, CO2-neutral city centre. In addition, the city is simply not fulfilling its role as a role model and can hardly justify, for example, the diesel driving bans already in force if it continues to rely on diesel technology itself. Günther herself had criticised that there are still no electric mid-range alternatives for passenger cars and that the charging structure is lagging behind. How can she then expect people to choose an electric model for a new car if she herself does not do so? Surely a switch to electric buses would be possible, even if they had to be charged between their journeys, for example, and more articulated buses were used instead of double-deckers. The city wants to invest 700 million euros of taxpayers' money to build new depots and charging points.

The diesel buses can then park next to these charging points.