On 16 December 2019, the Rotterdam Electric Tram company (RET), in conjunction with principal Metropoolregio Rotterdam Den Haag (MRDH) and the municipality of Rotterdam, introduced 55 fully electric buses. In keeping with national policy and in agreement with the MRDH the entire RET bus fleet will be emission-free by 2030. The 55 buses will operate in Schiedam and Vlaardingen, as well as in Rotterdam, and all will operate on routes where air quality is key. The introduction of the buses will enable RET to save more than a million litres of diesel per year, and will eliminate the emission of more than four thousand tons of CO2. Travellers stand to gain by virtue of enhanced comfort, and the environment will benefit from reduced noise and emissions.


In introducing these sophisticated buses, RET is assuming its corporate social responsibilities. The bus fleet that RET has been operating up to now is nearing the end of its economic life; as of early 2020, RET is operating 198 obsolete diesel buses. In addition to the 55 ZE (Zero Emission) buses, 103 new diesel-hybrid buses and 40 new diesel buses have also been commissioned. These buses are, respectively, 40% and 10 – 20% more cost-effective than the older diesel models. Another 50 ZE buses will be added to the fleet in 2021, 50 more in 2024, and the final 110 ZE buses will be commissioned in 2029.


Because the technology is developing so fast, RET has deliberately opted for a gradual transition to emission-free operation; constant improvements are being made in terms of battery life and increased range of operation, and higher production volumes are likely to have a positive effect on purchase price. Staged introduction also means that the cost of investment can be spread by RET. The transition towards zero emissions will involve organisational changes; bus drivers and engineers will require training, and modifications may have to be made in the public space to accommodate charging infrastructure, as intermediate charging has to be taken into account when planning the service.

Header photograph: Rick Keus


The RET strives for a perfectly organised and implemented public transport system, providing the highest quality of service for residents and visitors in Rotterdam and its surroundings.

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