Electric bus outside of the Rathaus in Muenster, Germany.
Electric busses are amazing. When ours pulled up to the curb under the red, yellow, and white flags in front of the Rathaus it made NO sound. As someone who doesn’t like busses because of their nauseating smell, I was pleased to realize that electric busses do not have that smell because there is no diesel. I can well imagine that a city that composed its entire bus fleet of busses with electric ones would be much quieter and have cleaner air. According to our guide, Eckhard Schläfke, the bus drivers enjoy driving the electric busses for two reasons: one, they are proud to be contributing to the energy revolution and doing something good for the climate, and two, the electric busses vibrate less than their diesel counter-parts. This means that driving the electric busses for a whole shift is more comfortable for them than driving the diesel busses was. This also translates to a smoother ride for the passengers, which the motion sickness prone of the delegation appreciated.
Minnesota Commissioner Grace Arnold and Mindy Granley, a sustainability officer from the city of Duluth, riding on the electric bus together.
One of Muenster's city owned electric ride share cars for faster transport, the elderly and parents with strollers.
Herr Schläfke told us that right now the electric busses have a diesel backup for heat, which is used on the coldest of winter days. However, new electric busses which will have enough battery capacity to run the heat electrically are coming to the streets of Münster soon. Perhaps we will also see them in the metro areas of Minnesota soon.
Münster is also developing a program where city owned ride-share cars can be ordered to shuttle people to locations. An interesting idea for applying this concept for transporting more rural Minnesotans in bedroom communities to a bussing hub where they could then take a bus into the bigger city where they are employed. It is seeing creative innovations like this that help our leaders develop ideas for transforming public transportation, and transportation in general, in Minnesota to help us meet our climate goals and improve people’s lives.