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Helsinki transport invests in electric buses

The regional transport authority in Helsinki plans to invest 5-6 million euros in electric buses over the next four years. This has been good news for the western Finland town of Sastamala, as local business Fortaco Oy is now looking to hire more welders and fitters to fill the order.

HSL:n paikallisbussi
Image: Yle

The Helsinki Regional Transport Authority (HSL), a joint manager of public transport systems in the metropolitan cities of Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa, Kauniainen, Kerava, Kirkkonummi and Sipoo, closed an agreement with the new Finnish electric bus manufacturer Linkker in February 2015 for the acquisition of electric buses. The first stage of this 5-6 million euro acquisition agreement will see HSL add 12 electric buses to its fleet.

This acquisition marks a shift in HSL’s strategy, departing from the established model of contracting independent bus companies to provide the vehicles used in its fleet. Under the new model, HSL itself owns some of the buses, which it then lends out to contractors to use.

The production and assembly of the new electric buses is expected to create dozens of new jobs in the western municipality of Sastamala. The company Fortaco Oy has begun recruiting new workers for its plant there, where all of the Linkker buses will be manufactured.

The first electric buses for the order will be completed already early next year.

HSL seeks sustainable development

On a typical workday morning, HSL oversees the routes of about 1,300 buses in the capital city region. HSL says the electric bus acquisition is a strong sign of its commitment to sustainability, as it aims to increase the number of low-emission vehicles in its fleet.

This acquisition is also the first goal in HSL's public transport vision for 2025, in which its fleet would include 400 electric buses, 200-300 hybrid buses, and some 400 diesel buses.

HSL’s Transport Services Manager Reijo Mäkinen says the investment will also have a short payback period. He calculates that if the electric buses are in use for more than 12 years, they will prove cheaper than their diesel equivalents. 

Fortaco’s plant in Sastamala, near Tampere, has the capacity to manufacture 200 electric buses each year. 

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