New Biodiesel, Electric Buses Take to Streets of San José

September 8, 2006

In a move toward reducing pollution in the exhaust-choked San José area and reducing operating costs, approximately 130 city buses began running on biodiesel this week and another company is importing an electric bus.

Consorcio Operativo del Este, a private company with the concession to run the routes of Zapote, Sabanilla, Curridabat and Tres Ríos, all east of San José center, announced last week that it was going to begin to run its fleet on a mix of 30% biodiesel and 70% diesel.

The company hopes to decrease the percentage of traditional diesel until its buses run entirely on biodiesel, the daily La República reported.

The move is part of a pilot plan to encourage the use of cleaner forms of energy in Costa Rica, the Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAE) announced Sept 1.

Biodiesel is a non-polluting, vegetable oil-based alternative to traditional fossil fuels that is gaining popularity around the world. The biodiesel used by Consorcio Operativo del Este is being produced by the company Costa Rican Biodegradable Energy using animal and vegetable oils such as palm oil and oils discarded by fast-food restaurants.

Company head Orlando Ramírez said biodiesel provides the same amount of energy to vehicles as traditional diesel, but is cheaper, translating into direct savings for consumers.

MINAE spokeswoman Gloria Villa said public buses are some of the country’s main gasoline consumers and air polluters. Biodiesel reduces pollution produced by toxic gases by 98% compared to traditional diesel, producing a significant positive environmental impact, Villa said.

Metrocoop, which runs the bus routes to the southern San José suburb Hatillo, is also looking toward more environmentally friendly practices. According to La República,Metrocoop is in the process of importing its first electric bus to test its reliability.

Metrocoop’s electric bus could be in operation by the beginning of 2007, La República reported.

 

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