More Electric Buses Operated By Energy Producer Aboitiz Deployed In Philippine Urban Centers
Promoting sustainable transportation in the Philippines is difficult not only because of charging infrastructure but also because of heavy traffic and long transportation routes.
Aboitiz Equity Ventures (AEV), part of Aboitiz Corporation, a Philippine energy producer that is also into banking and financial services, food, infrastructure, data science, and artificial intelligence, is making headway by promoting simple EV technologies for public service, overcoming charging issues by centralizing strategically located stations.
Three years ago, Aboitiz Group created the BEST Bus electric bus project to serve the commuters in various capital cities of the Philippines. BEST means Business for Environmentally Sustainable Transformation. It promotes digitally-powered, environmentally-friendly public transportation.
Initial 50 Buses
The first seven BEST buses were first released in December 2020, operated by the AboitizPower unit Davao Light and Power Co. in Mindanao’s first fully electric, free-ride shuttle service. Buses were deployed first in Davao City during the tail end of the pandemic to transport frontline health workers from home to the various hospitals and COVID medical facilities in the city.
In Manila, the first 50 buses were deployed in batches of five and ten units for free to the public for the first 3 months. Like in Davao they were first used to service the needs of health workers in serving COVID hospitals and medical facilities.
The public routes were operated from Manila to Pasay City to Quezon City.
In both situations, the local governments of Manila and Davao were in charge of the buses’ electricity, driver salaries, and route planning, among other things. Operating first as shuttle services, not as actual public transportation, the Manila city government has since opened the routes to the general riding public. In Davao the buses are still operated as point-to-point shuttles.
The RED initiative
Another Aboitiz company, Aboitiz InfraCapital (AIC) Economic Estates, recently introduced the RED initiative within its flagship real estate project LIMA Estate in Batangas, some 90 kilometers from Manila.
The RED initiative comprises two vital components: Red Link and Red Pass. Red Link features a fleet of electric mini-buses that offer an eco-friendly transportation alternative, replacing conventional fuel-powered vehicles at LIMA Estate.
LIMA Estate is a thriving 800-hectare industrial park registered with the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), the largest privately owned one in the Philippines. It is home to 65,000 employees, 150 locators, 167 retail stores and restaurants, a 136-room 4-star hotel, a transportation hub, and over 4,000 households.
Envisioned to be the next leading mixed-use economic center for CALABARZON, LIMA Estate is expanding to include BPOs, dormitories, hotels, schools, hospitals, churches, and other institutions.
AIC Economic Estates aims to transition its entire service fleet to electric vehicles by 2025. Red Pass is a lifestyle program that enhances the experience of estate visitors and residents. Initially, it serves as an access card to Red Link, providing seamless estate-wide mobility with a single tap.
These initiatives align with AIC Economic Estates’ commitment to sustainability, reducing carbon emissions and providing a more eco-friendly transportation option for the LIMA Estate community, including persons with disabilities. The electric mini-buses are equipped with retractable electric ramps, dedicated wheelchair slots, onboard cameras, display monitors, and onboard WiFi.
AIC Economic Estates plans to expand the Red Link fleet to MEZ2 Estate and collaborate with other Aboitiz business units to enhance Red Pass. Future phases of Red Pass will transform the access card into a rewards or loyalty card and an e-wallet card.
Also in Cebu
GET Cebu, a fleet of low-emission COMET Buses, were also released in Cebu City, some 825 km from Manila in the Visayas region. Cebu is a progressive province and GET Cebu serves four routes, promoting sustainable and eco-friendly transportation in the province.
This initiative aligns with AIC Economic Estates’ goal of future-proofing estates and fostering smart cities with resilient spaces that prioritize community and environmental well-being.
“We are dedicated to reducing our carbon emissions by transitioning to EVs and providing sustainable mobility to the tens of thousands of people that pass through LIMA Estate each day. These initiatives form the cornerstone of next-generation cities, enabling us to forge a sustainable future for the communities wherein we operate, as well as for the nation,” Rafael Fernandez de Mesa, Head of Aboitiz InfraCapital Economic Estates, concludes by highlighting the importance of all of these initiatives.
BEST Buses by COMET
The BEST Buses run on fast-charging lithium-ion batteries that are charged via two chargers: long and fast. Each bus is deployed with a full charge and range of 100 kilometers (km). The buses can charge at fast chargers situated at strategically-located terminals. Fifteen minutes on a fast charger will enable the buses to run for 80 to 100 km more.
Each unit can safely accommodate 30 passengers.
The buses are built in the Philippines by the Global Electric Transport (GET) Corp, which is headquartered in San Diego, USA. It has partnered with Spain’s QEV Technologies and China’s EV Dynamics to create a bus platform that is efficient and affordable.
A fleet of BEST Bus units is expected to serve 150,000 commuters annually and prevent approximately 40,000 kilograms (kg) of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, 30,000 liters of diesel fuel use, and 65,000 kg of particulate matter pollution per year.
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