Photo taken on Nov. 27, 2017 shows the first electric bus in Cuba of the Yutong Company, in Havana, Cuba. A singular green bus manufactured by a Chinese company has been circulating the streets of Havana for several days, marking a milestone in Cuba's history of public transportation. (Xinhua/Str)
HAVANA, Nov. 29 (Xinhua) -- A singular green bus manufactured by a Chinese company has been circulating the streets of Havana for several days, marking a milestone in Cuba's history of public transportation.
The electric bus was brought over by China's Yutong to reduce Cuba's dependence on fossil fuels, which is part of a national plan to mitigate the effects of climate change.
Starting Monday, it went into service covering one of the city's main routes, the 22.5-km Route 18, taking passengers through the capital's populous areas like Cerro, downtown Havana and Old Havana.
The wide-bodied 12-meter-long vehicle offers a comfortable ride with 36 seats and a roomy interior that can accommodate up to 51 standing commuters.
In Cuba's sometimes steamy tropical weather, it is the only urban bus in Havana with air conditioning.
"It's really a magnificent bus. It has air conditioning and we have to take care of it so that it lasts. I think it's a good initiative," first-time passenger Leonardo Wong told Xinhua.
The bus can move at 70 km/h, and has a suspension system and tires adapted to the capital's roads, some of which are in poor condition.
"It's electric, so there will be less smoke and pollution in the city. So it's perfect that it has entered into service and hopefully there will be more like it in the future," said Luis Paredes, a regular commuter of the route.
The vehicle has a charging station, also supplied by the bus maker. The charging station's 380-volt generator was specially adapted in Cuba by Chinese experts.
According to Jorge Luis Leon, technical director of the Havana transportation company, the fully-charged batteries have an eight-year guarantee and allow the bus to travel between 250 and 300 km, enough to complete up to 11 round trips on the current route.
"This electric bus, the first in the country, has magnificent operating conditions from an ecological point of view, because it emits zero gases into the atmosphere and meets the Cuban government's pledge to protect the environment," said the executive.
Over the next nine months, his company and the Cuban Transportation Management Research Center will assess the vehicle's technical performance and cost savings to determine the feasibility of its use in other bus routes in Havana.
"In the future ...it could lead to the purchase of more buses of this type for the country," Leon said.
Bus driver Daniel Rios, a 25-year veteran, is Cuba's first "ecological driver," chosen by Yutong to drive the island's first electric bus.
Among the features he most appreciates is the ergonomic seat, which has a digital memory of a driver's weight, so it can adopt the same height and position when used again.
Another well-liked feature is the rear-view mirror, which is covered by an electric heating membrane that resists fogging up during a rain.
"The benefits make the trip more comfortable, more bearable, less stressful for the passenger and even for the driver. The driver's work is humanized a lot," said Rios.
Fang Mingliang, Yutong's representative in Cuba, is optimistic that once the feasibility test is concluded, more electric buses will join transit fleets across Cuba.
"We believe that with the gradual economic development of Cuba and according to the demand of the Cuban people, in the future they can buy more electric or hybrid buses and this will help to save fossil fuels and contribute to the environment in this country," Fang said.