The deal has been sealed for Barbados to buy electric buses from China, the Prime Minister announced today, even as she hopped about a Transport Board bus that a St Michael firm has converted into an electric vehicle.
The prototype could also prove to be the model for turning some of the public bus company’s engine-less fleet into running EV buses, she hinted.
Mottley made the comments as she visited Endless Electric Limited at Lears, where Wayne Clarke and Dan Johnson had restored and retrofitted an old Transport Board diesel engine bus with an electric motor.
She said Government had just finalised the arrangements to buy an undisclosed number of electric buses from China.
But, hinting at the future for the existing fleet, the premier indicated that Government wanted to have continuous procurement for a rolling replacement programme.
She said: “We also felt that we have too many empty shells [of buses] and when a proposal was made to purchase one shell to see what could be done, the Government was more than willing to give these young entrepreneurs… an opportunity.
“I therefore wanted to see what could be produced and as you can see this is magnificent work.
“This is what we can do if we put our minds to it.
“This is a prototype; they now need to go back to the table and see whether they can make a business case because as much as we want to help Bajans, it still has to meet the business case that the country can afford.
“Government is disposed towards working with Barbadians to create opportunities wherever we can, but I give the warning always that it has to be within reasonableness.”
Mottley called for a combination of approaches to the procurement of buses, declaring that empowering citizens was important, and gave as an example bus drivers being able to pool their resources to purchase and own a bus.
The Endless Electric bus received an instant thumbs-up review from retired Transport Board driver Ricardo Briggs, who said it was very responsive.
He told reporters: “The braking system is superior to the other buses.
“It is a nice feeling to drive it; it handles well and I just hope that we will be in a position to do more buses and bring local jobs because this is a viable option.”
Endless Electric Limited’s Clarke said the electric bus should be 75 per cent more efficient than any diesel bus and thus offer greater savings to taxpayers.
After viewing the bus and taking a short ride, Prime Minister Mottley declared the latest development a key example of the Government’s job-creation push.
She declared: “The creation of jobs now is one of the key things that this Government will be focused on, and it will happen not just in the new areas of activity, such as renewable energy and medicinal cannabis… but it must happen in some of the traditional areas where we can do better some of the things we want to do.”