Since December 2012, the Arnhem-Nijmegen city region can boast the greenest ‘OV-concessie’ (a contract for public transportation, in this case with the goal to make public transportation greener) in the Netherlands. Since then, all of the buses in the 20 municipalities within the region have been operating on regionally produced green gas and electricity (the trolley buses in and around Arnhem). With this transition, the problem of air quality in the city centres has been largely solved in one go.
‘OV-concessie’ of 10 years
The 10-year OV-concessie with a turnover of almost 1 billion Euros was awarded to Connexxion, which provides the transportation under the name Breng. The company has a fleet of 218 buses running on green gas, 45 trolley buses, 1 bus running on hydrogen and the Arnhem-Doetinchem train service.
Comprehensive chain of green fuels
The OV-concessie proved to be the right tool to create a comprehensive chain for the production and use of green gas. The waste processor ARN in Nijmegen processes regional organic waste into green gas, on which the buses in the region run. For the first time in the Netherlands an entire public transport chain from well to wheel has been organised in the region.
The production capacity currently does not cover the full demand; however, the region will eventually be self-sufficient when it comes to green fuels for public transport. So long as the quantities of regionally produced green gas do not fulfil demand, the remainder will be provided by certified green gas producers elsewhere in the Netherlands.
- the greenest OV-concessiein the Netherlands
- up to 90% reduction in particulate emissions and CO2
- incentive for the green gas market in the region
- less dependence on the fossil fuel market
The motives behind the green licensing were clear:
- Cost: the whole PT license fits within the available budget
- Quality: the buses and trains run on time and provide adequate comfort
- Quantity: timetables remain at least at the level from before the OV-concessie
- Climate neutral: CO2 emissions must be reduced sharply and bus transport must be less dependent on external energy suppliers
Unique tender process
The city region worked together with the transport industry and other parties for three years to create a sound list of requirements. The independent and transparent calculation model ‘The Green Cockpit’, which was specially designed for the tender process, showed that an overall greening of the contract was technically and economically feasible within the budgets available for public transport. The management board of the city region took the daring step to include massive reductions in CO2 emissions and the use of non-fossil fuels as additional requirements in the tender. The objective was to make all public transport in the city region go 100% green in one fell swoop.
Greening the OV-concessie seemed possible within the set budget. The question was whether this was genuinely realistic in the market. Independent experts calculated the business case over the entire contract period of 10 years. The calculations showed that the company which was awarded the contract would still be able to deliver the required services with a sufficiently attractive profit margin within the set budget. By not letting the market bear all the risks, but estimating them efficiently and freeing up a sufficiently large budget, the Arnhem-Nijmegen city region proved to be a professional client.