Keolis launches the 100% electric Bus Rapid Transit line between Bayonne and Biarritz

On 2 September, 2019, Keolis, which runs Chronoplus, the transport network of the Basque Country conurbation authority in the south of France started operating a 100% electric BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) line on behalf of the public transport authority SMPBA . The 12 km long line featuring 30 stations offers an innovative, more sustainable mode of transport that will connect Bayonne to Biarritz, two major cities in the south of France in 30 minutes. The line’s opening, which will be followed by the launch of a second electric line between Bayonne and Tarnos in 2020, is part of a much larger, global overhaul of the network. Thanks to the deployment of a new transport offer which is simpler for passengers to understand and use, MPBA and Keolis are expecting a 25% ridership increase across the network by the end of 2023. The e-BRT line between Bayonne and Biarritz represents a new milestone in the Group’s electric mobility strategy with Keolis remaining the largest operator of electric transport networks in France in 2019.

Keolis has been operating the Chronoplus network since 2017 and provides mobility services to 160,000 residents in the Basque conurbation, including 11 municipalities  (compared to seven previously). 

To increase the attractiveness of the region, adapt to changes in passenger lifestyles and facilitate their travel, SMPBA and Keolis have redesigned and modernised the transport offer, notably introducing a 100% electric BRT line between Bayonne and Biarritz. A second BRT line, linking Bayonne to Tarnos, will be inaugurated in 2020. A central element of any transport network, the BRT line offers communities the benefits of a transport mode that runs on a dedicated lane as well as extended timetables. When running on alternative energy (electric or hybrid), BRT also addresses the challenge of the energy transition. 

10 e-BRTs link Bayonne to Biarritz and serve the main regional hubs including Bayonne’s city centre, the Forum business district, a shopping centre, the Anglet city centre and the Aguilera stadium.

With the majority of sections of circulation on dedicated lanes and priority at traffic lights, the travel time between Bayonne and Biarritz will be reduced to 30 minutes. The buses will now operate on an extended timetable (from 5.30 am to 00.30 am on weekdays and to 2.30 am from Thursday to Saturday), with an interval of 12 minutes during the day.

A new, innovative mode of transport at the heart of Keolis’ sustainable approach to mobility 

Built by the Spanish manufacturer Irizar, these 18-metre-long vehicles with 150 seats emit no atmospheric pollutants and significantly reduce noise and vibrations.

Equipped with large bay windows to provide passengers with more interior light, the vehicles, accessible to passengers with reduced mobility, feature USB sockets under each seat. The 30 stations of the line are equipped with complete real-time passenger information and ticket vending machines.

These electric vehicles can be charged fast in 5 minutes (on average) in the terminal or in 3 to 4 hours at the depot at night.

The introduction of this new fleet of 10 vehicles will be followed by 8 more soon to run on the second BRT line. Work required to refurbish the Bayonne depot is currently underway to allow for the new fleet’s maintenance and 110 employees have already been trained to operate it.

2019: a key year in electric mobilty for Keolis in France and internationally

As an actor in the energy transition, Keolis is committed to working with public transport authorities and passengers to promote more sustainable mobility.

In addition to the 100% electric BRT lines of Bayonne-Biarritz and Amiens (launched in May 2019), the Group is currently working with the conurbation authority to prepare the launch of the 100% hydrogen BRT line in Pau , scheduled for the end of the year. In 2019, Keolis will thus remain the largest operator of 100% electric networks in France.

In Europe, Keolis is also in charge of numerous electric mobility projects. In addition to its electric fleets in Sweden and the Netherlands, in June 2019 the Group won the carbon-free bus network in Bergen, Norway. 

In North America, Keolis operates electric buses in Greensboro (North Carolina), Foothill (South California) and Reno (Nevada) in the United States. In Canada, in December 2018 Keolis became the largest operator of 100% electric C-type school buses in North America.

Key figures for the Chronoplus network


  • 9.5 million passengers every year
  • 5.5 million km covered per year
  • 350 employees