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The bus company is in a split between achieving the climate target and the concession starting, so Friesland is starting bus transport with diesel buses.

Qbuzz, the new bus transport operator in Friesland, has announced that it will use diesel buses from December, a decision that is surprising given today's climate goals. According to the digital trade magazine Passenger Transport Magazine Qbuzz is forced to make this choice for two main reasons. Firstly, there is the limited availability of electricity in Friesland due to grid congestion. In addition, the long delivery time of electric buses plays a role, which is not in line with the tight implementation timeline for the new Frisian bus concession that runs from the end of 2024 to 2034.

A Qbuzz spokesperson emphasizes the importance of emission-free public transport, but indicates that the choice of diesel buses is necessary to guarantee the accessibility of the province. “We find emission-free public transport extremely important, but by starting with diesel buses, we guarantee the accessibility of Fryslân,” the spokesperson explains.

Qbuzz's choice has led to shocked reactions, especially from politicians who are committed to environmental protection. Elsa van der Hoek, Member of Parliament for GrienLinks, expressed her surprise and dissatisfaction in the Leeuwarder Courant. She points out that the Frisian States have set clear requirements for zero-emission buses in the Program of Requirements. “That is not the case at all now. It is bizarre that in these times of climate and nitrogen you purchase new diesel buses,” says Van der Hoek.

However, the Provincial Executive of Fryslân (GS) defends Qbuzz's choice by stating that the company operates within the current regulations. Diesel buses are allowed to enter until December 31, 2024; After that, all new buses must meet the zero-emission requirement. GS has also noted that the transition to fully electric buses by the end of 2025 would not be possible anyway due to network congestion in the region. They emphasize that the transition to emission-free public transport is taking place in phases, and that the final objectives are uniform for all provinces.

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Illustration: © Pitane Blue - QBuzz in Friesland

It is remarkable that Qbuzz predominantly opts for electric buses in other provinces, such as Groningen and Drenthe. The exception for Friesland and the choice to 'look for loopholes in the rules', as Van der Hoek puts it, raises questions about consistency in policy and implementation.

The situation is further complicated by the recent bankruptcy from bus manufacturer Van Hool, which means that a large order of 166 electric buses for Qbuzz cannot be delivered. This has undoubtedly influenced Qbuzz's decision-making, given the urgent need to provide a reliable timetable against the backdrop of this unforeseen setback. Despite the setbacks, the expectation remains that by 2030 all public transport buses in the Netherlands should be zero-emission, a target set nationally to achieve environmental objectives.

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