On 10 July, the first user forum with representatives of transport companies from all over North Rhine-Westphalia took place, as part of the Strategie E project at the project partner STOAG in Oberhausen
The focus of the workshop was to discuss with the transport companies the challenges arising from the electrification of bus fleets and to demonstrate the possibilities of software-supported planning. This provided a more accurate status of the current planning status of the participating North Rhine-Westphalia transport companies. Aachener Straßenbahn und Energieversorgungs-AG (ASEAG), Stadtwerke Solingen, Oberbergische Verkehrsgesellschaft (OVAG), Bochum-Gelsenkirchener Straßenbahnen AG (BOGESTRA), as well as Dortmunder Stadtwerke (DSW21) could be won as participants in the Strategie E user forum.
In the beginning, the fundamental planning challenges and use of electric buses were clarified. Additionally, the host, STOAG, presented previous efforts to electrify its fleet. The participants then briefly presented the planning status in their companies with considerable differences and approaches among each other.
In the second part of the event, the functions and possibilities of the planning software to be developed for the project were presented to the participants. In a World-Cafe format it was discussed how challenges resulting from the electrification have to be considered in a planning software. The most important challenge was the political pressure and exchange with the municipalities. In addition, maintaining operational flexibility was mentioned as a difficult task in the ongoing electrification. According to the participants, the software should provide for a feasibility check of individual lines and also show the reasons why a line cannot be electrified.
At the end of the event, the participants were able to take an excursion to see the new line 979 electric buses, which run between Oberhausen Sterkrade railway station and the central bus station in Bottrop. Since July 2019, this has been regarded as the first city-connecting electric bus line in North Rhine-Westphalia.
Outlook: The next user forum is scheduled for March 2020. Registration for transport companies from North Rhine-Westphalia is possible at: https://strategie-e.de/nutzerforum/
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