Rationales for transitioning to electric buses in Swedish public transport

Vendela Åslund & Fredrik Pettersson-Löfstedt, Research in Transportation Economics, September 2023

Public transport systems in different parts of the world are currently undergoing a change characterised by the introduction of battery-powered electric buses in everyday operations. The introduction of electric buses brings new challenges such as high investment costs and technology concerns, as well as new forms of collaboration between both established and new actors. The aim of this paper is to disentangle different actors’ rationale for the transition, identifying underlying interests in and expectations of the electric bus system. With a focus on the Swedish context, we found that whilst common rationales exist, these are influenced by collective expectations and different underlying interests for the actor groups. We found that the interests of the actors are grounded in expectations of future developments, but also relate to the experience that the transition is occurring faster than previously anticipated. The results show a high degree of consensus regarding the transition to electric buses, although the actors have varying resources and action spaces with which to influence the transition, which is largely determined by the institutional and local context.

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