Time and time again, the high upfront cost of electric buses when compared to diesel buses is a major hurdle that cities face when trying to clean up their carbon footprint. The benefits of electric buses are undeniable, including reduced pollution, savings on operation and maintenance of buses, and increased public health benefits. But even if the transit agency, the local government, citizens, and other stakeholders are all aligned on wanting zero-emissions transit options, the biggest question they have to answer is: How can they afford this increased upfront cost?
Our colleagues at the Financing Sustainable Cities Initiative (FSCI) are working to help city governments and investors bridge from innovation to implementation and tackle questions such as this. FSCI is a partnership between C40 and the WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, funded by the Citi Foundation, to help accelerate and scale up investment in sustainable urban solutions like electric buses through their annual Clean Bus Finance Academy.
At the second Clean Bus Finance Academy held in Quito, Ecuador this May, Dr. Holmes Hummel was invited to present on Pay As You Save (PAYS) for Clean Transport, an innovative model where a utility can offer to pay the upfront cost of bus batteries and charging equipment and then recover its cost with a fixed payment on the operator’s electricity bill. This approach reduces dependence on grants to overcome the upfront cost barrier, and as a result, cities can advance their clean transit goals much more quickly.
The Academy was attended by senior officials from nine different cities in Latin America, India, Europe, and North America as well as financial and technical experts.