SANTIAGO, Oct. 16 (Xinhua) -- After helping build Latin America's first mass transit electric corridor in Chile, China has supplied the key components of the corridor: fleets of eco-friendly electric buses.
The Chinese-made buses run on rechargeable batteries, and boast a host of modern amenities, including Wi-Fi and USB ports, offering commuters in the capital Santiago better traveling experience in urban public transportation.
"Public transport is an essential part of our quality of life," Chilean President Sebastian Pinera said on Tuesday, as he unveiled the latest fleet of 183 new electric buses manufactured by Chinese electric vehicle maker BYD, an industry leader.
"A good public transit system that's safer, more comfortable, quieter and faster, improves quality of life," said Pinera.
"We are taking this big leap forward and toward the future," he added, noting that "outside China, Santiago is the city with the most electric buses."
Santiago's drive towards sustainability has been turbocharged as the city prepares to host a landmark international climate change conference in December, the 25th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP25) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The Chinese government is doing its part by donating 20 electric buses to help shuttle conference participants during the gathering, Chilean Minister of Transportation and Telecommunications Gloria Hutt told Xinhua.
According to Hutt, China, as a "pioneer in the development of the technologies behind electric mobility in ... public transit," has been an inspiration to Chile.
"Borrowing China's experience, we adopted the same kinds of solutions, and they have been very successful," said Hutt.
Hutt's ministry is now working to introduce electric mass transit to other major cities with Chinese-made buses, which "are very efficient and of very good quality," she said.
In Santiago, the infrastructure is already in place. Buses can recharge every 260 km at the Los Espinos electric terminal, where solar panels supply the energy. It takes just three hours to recharge a bus.
Prior electric bus fleets had gone into operation in the capital between December and March, bringing the total number of electric buses serving local residents to 386.
According to government figures, switching to electric mass transit has led to significant savings in operating costs, with conventional diesel burning buses costing over 300 pesos (about 0.42 U.S. dollars) per kilometer run compared to just 77 pesos (0.11 dollars) per kilometer for the electric buses.