New electric buses in Seoul: Experience is ‘cool!’

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New electric buses in Seoul: Experience is ‘cool!’

The day when all buses in Seoul no longer need to run on natural gas is appearing to be closer to reality.

The Seoul Metropolitan Government plans to add four more electric buses by the end of the month to the five already operating along a route to N Seoul Tower on Mount Namsan.

It has been two months since Seoul put into service the world’s first commercial electric buses.

The peanut-shaped buses have been well-received by locals and tourists alike, and passengers have expressed their enthusiasm on social networking sites.

“The electric buses are becoming one of the attractions that visitors must experience in Namsan,” said Cho Yoon-jin, an official at the Climate Change and Air Quality Division of Seoul’s government.

“Bloggers are showing a lot of interest and posting comments along with pictures of the electric buses saying, ‘I took the longer bus route, just to experience the electric bus,’ and ‘It is my first time seeing an electric bus. Cool!’”

When fully charged, the bus can travel up to 83 kilometers (51.5 miles), and just like any other electric appliance, the bus’ lithium-ion battery can be recharged in just 30 minutes at a recharging station.

And Seoul residents and tourists will have more opportunities to travel aboard the eco-friendly buses this year. While the buses will operate mainly on Namsan, the metropolitan government plans to begin a pilot operation of electric buses along routes in Yeouido and Gangnam in the second half of the year.

“From a long-term perspective, we plan to introduce more than 300 electric buses by 2014, mostly in short distance bus lines,” Cho said.

The city hopes to replace more than half of its buses with electric ones by 2020.

The government is also in consultations with public institutions regarding the use of electric buses as shuttle buses, and there are plans to install around 300 EV (electric vehicle) charging devices around Seoul.

The use of electric buses is part of the city’s strategy to further improve Seoul’s air quality.

According to Cho, enhancing Seoul’s air quality is not only important to citizens’ health but also helpful to address climate change, which is “one of the biggest challenges that humankind is facing,” Cho said.

Seoul’s smoggy air had been an ongoing annoyance for visitors and locals alike, but the city’s air quality has been steadily improving.

In 2010, Seoul recorded its best air quality since the air quality division started monitoring in 1995.

Last month, Seoul experienced 21 days of air quality similar to that of Jeju Island - seen as a benchmark for clean air in Korea.

By Philip Chan Intern reporter []

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전기차 성능, 환경공단 직원들이 직접 검증

한국환경공단(이하 환경공단)이 직원들을 통해 직접 전기승용차 시승에 대한 보급 가능성 검증에 나선다.

환경공단은 22일 직원들이 출퇴근용으로 전기승용차를 직접 시승한 후 실증사업의 기초 자료로 활용한다고 밝혔다.

시승대상 전기차는 저속전기차 2대, 고속전기차 1대로 환경연구단지 인근 혹은 1회 충전으로 운행가능한 지역에 거주하는 직원이 1주일씩 운행하게 된다.

시승자는 사내 공모를 통해 운전경력, 거주지 인근 충전소 유무, 출퇴근 거리 등을 고려해 선정했다.

선발된 직원은 전기차 운행방법, 충전기 이용방법, 자료작성 및 안전에 대한 교육을 받고 곧바로 시험운행에 들어간다.

전기자동차의 보급 가능성 검증을 위해 전기버스는 하루 2회, 공항철도 검암역과 종합환경연구단지간을 무료 운행해 전철 이용자를 수송하게 된다.

고속전기승용차의 최고속도는 130Km/h, 1회 충전 주행거리 140km이며 저속전기승용차의 최고속도는 60Km/h, 1회 충전 주행거리 75~78km다.

전기버스는 실증운행을 위해 현대자동차에서 한국환경공단에 제공한 차량으로 최고속도 100Km/h(현대자동차 일렉시티), 1회 충전 주행거리 120km로 51인이 탑승할 수 있다.

환경공단은 운행을 통해 전기자동차 운행시 주행성능, 안정성, 운행거리등 차량의 성능을 확인하고 소음, 승차감, 차량내 편의시설 등에 대한 탑승객의 소감을 설문조사하게 된다.

환경공단 관계자는 “이번 전기승용차 시승 및 전기버스 운행을 통해 이용자의 다양한 승차소감과 의견을 수렴하고 차량 성능개선에 반영되도록 할 계획”이라고 말했다

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