Amiens Métropole and Keolis launch the first electric bus rapid transit service in France

This week Keolis began operating 43 fully electric buses on three of the four new bus rapid transit (BRT) routes in Amiens on behalf of Amiens Métropole. Called Nemo, these four new BRT routes, make up the backbone of the whole Ametis public transport network where they are expected to constitute more than 70% of total network traffic across the Amiens intercommunal area. Amiens Métropole and Keolis forecast an increase of 28% in passenger numbers over the next five years as a result of this new network. This BRT system is the first of its kind in France and represents a major milestone in the roll-out of Keolis’ electro-mobility strategy which will see the Group become France’s leading operator of electric shared mobility networks by the end of 2019.

Keolis has been operating the Ametis network in Amiens since 2012. At the end of 2017, its contract was renewed until the end of April 2024, and under its terms, it will continue to provide mobility services for the 180,000 residents of Amiens Métropole residing in 39 towns and villages over a 350 km² area.

Keolis is thereby accompanying Amiens Métropole – which was officially endorsed as a ‘positive-energy region helping to deliver green growth’ in 2015 – with its ambitious objectives in the transition to greener energies including investing to become completely electric.

France's first electric BRT service

On 11th May, Keolis began operating 43 fully electric buses out of a total fleet of 136 vehicles on behalf of Amiens Métropole. The buses, which can accommodate up to 151 passengers, operate on three routes which serve some of the intercommunal area's key locations, including the city centre, its leisure facilities (hippodrome, the exhibition centre and the new swimming pool), university hospital complex, university campuses, train stations and the main residential areas. Some of the routes along which the buses run are dedicated transport corridors and enjoy priority right of way at traffic lights from 4am until midnight. During peak hours, buses run every 8 to 10 minutes.

Built by Spanish manufacturer Irizar, these new environmentally-friendly, silent and cost-efficient buses emit no atmospheric pollution and reduce noise and vibrations significantly. Consequently, these new buses will improve quality of life for all Amiens residents as well as improving the passenger experience.

A first in Europe, these electric vehicles have a unique charging system featuring a rapid charge option in the bus terminal (4-5 minutes average charging time for 40 km of autonomous service), or a slower charge option in the bus depot at night (3-4 hours to charge to 100% capacity).

To prepare for the launch of the electric BRT system and upgrade the skill sets of the people involved in operating these new vehicles, Keolis has implemented a training scheme for more than 300 drivers, as well as employees in charge of maintaining the electric vehicles and the regulators at the central control station.

Furthermore, a new HEQ - certified operations and maintenance centre HEQ which can accommodate up to 155 buses has been built in Rivery, on the outskirts of Amiens. Opened on 15th April in the presence of Elisabeth Borne, France's Minister for Transport, and Alain Gest, Chairman of Amiens Métropole, this site has been designed to make it easier to manage and maintain the network and bring about significant improvements in working conditions.

A new, more appealing network

To encourage residents from the urban area and surrounding towns and villages to use the new shared mobility service, the whole Ametis network will be free of charge between 11th May and 16th June. Moreover, from 22nd June onwards, all of the network’s lines will be free on Saturday.

To support this new network, starting on 17th June, a new ticketing system (featuring post-payment in particular) will be introduced to make passenger journeys easier, along with a new ‘inclusive’ fee system based on passengers’ income.

With the introduction of the BRT and the restructuring of the existing bus network, Keolis and Amiens Métropole forecast a 28% increase in passenger numbers between now and the end of the contract in 2024.

2019 – a key year for electro-mobility for Keolis, both in France and internationally

As a committed actor in the transition to greener energies, Keolis is working with public transport authorities and passengers to promote a more sustainable form of mobility.

In addition to the fully-electric BRT buses in Amiens, the Group is preparing to launch several other shared mobility solutions on dedicated lanes: the fully-electric BRT in Bayonne-Biarritz-Anglet, the hydrogen-powered BRT in Pau and the Caen tram system, which will all be brought into service over the next few months. As a result 2019 sees Keolis due to become the operator with the highest number of fully electric transport networks in France.

In Rennes, where the city ended its diesel-powered bus purchases in 2015, Keolis is testing five standard buses and one articulated bus from the fully electric BlueBus range (Bolloré). Two new ones will be brought into service between now and 2020.

In Orléans, the Group is supporting the city in developing a fully electric transport network. This will involve replacing the whole bus fleet with electric vehicles between now and 2024. As a result, the TAO network will see Orléans become France's first city fully electric network.

Internationally, Keolis is also spearheading numerous electro-mobility projects. In addition to its fleet of electric vehicles in Sweden and the Netherlands, the Group will soon be operating the second largest electric vehicle fleet on the East Coast of the United States. After beginning operations in January 2019 in Greensboro in North Carolina, Keolis launched the state's first fully electric bus route in February in the shift to what will become a full fleet of 43 fully electric buses. On the West Coast in Los Angeles, Foothill Transit selected the Group to operate its network of 147 buses, including 14 electric ones. It will also be helping it to deliver its mobility plan under which the whole network will be fully electric by 2030. In Canada in December 2018, Keolis became North America's largest operator of fully electric type-C school buses.

As of the end of 2018, the Keolis Group operated 3,847 vehicles running on alternative energies, including 312 electric ones.

 

The new Ametis network – key figures:

  • 7 million km covered per year
  • 16 million annual journeys predicted by the end of 2024
  • 4 BRT Nemo routes, including three fully electric ones, representing 70% of total passenger numbers
  • 110 accessible and comfortable bus-based mass transit system stations, with USB sockets on the seats
  • 1 Liane (service from 4am to midnight)
  • 14 Tempo lines (previously school bus routes)
  • 12 "convenience network" bus routes providing neighbourhoods with comprehensive coverage, connected to the Nemo routes via transfer hubs
  • 1 free city centre shuttle
  • 4 on-demand transport services
  • 2000 short-hire and long-hire rental bikes, including 970 e-bikes
  • 4 open park-and-ride facilities on the outskirts of the network where people can easily park and then use public transport to get into the town centre in 15 to 20 minutes
  • 1 car-sharing service (to be launched soon)
  • 470 employees