Maltese stakeholders gathered to discuss and identify Good Practices in a Gozo-lead meeting on 17 May. Due to their close working with their test drive on the Vero 9 model e-bus in Malta, the national transport company Malta Public Transport staff was invited.

Finding good practices related to the testing phase of the e-bus was the primary element of the meeting. Joseph Piscopo, the local coordinator for the eBussed Project in Gozo, informed the participants of the four eBussed project themes and encouraged exposing good practices by telling them that they would be listed under one or more of the themes.

 Photo by M Ashraful Alam / Unsplash

Malta Public Transport staff described the duration of the test phase and highlighted the main problems encountered during this pilot project. One of the main issues encountered was that since this was the first electric bus on the Maltese islands, most of the problems concerning its operation as well as charging infrastructure were learned during the process. They continued that since Malta has a hilly terrain, some pre-testing was done to test the ability of the bus to perform well on uphill roads. Following this pre-testing, the ebus was set to operate on a set of routes. This enabled easier comparison of performance. The bus was also tested in worst-case conditions like roads with steep uphill gradient and traffic.

Emerging from the discussion, the meeting identified a good practice: those drivers who chose to drive the e-bus first, drove the bus on a test route to get familiar with its operation before boarding any passengers. The drivers also had a logbook to monitor the performance of the e-bus as well as to give their feedback about any issues encountered during driving. The technicians and mechanics working on this pilot project were also in direct contact with the supplier of the bus to resolve any technical errors encountered during the testing. In case of damaged components, the supplier provided the necessary spare parts and guided the technicians on how they should be replaced.

The meeting discussed also the concept of preconditioning during summer to cool the bus before starting its operation. Some of the other eBussed project partners are doing this procedure routinely in the operation of their e-buses. The climate in Malta is a combination of mild winters and very hot summers. The conclusion was, according to Joseph Simiana from Malta Public Transport, that since the e-buses start operation early in the morning even at the peak of summer, this would not be very applicable since in the morning temperatures will still be mild.

The work will be carried on by compiling the Good Practices gathered from the meeting and asking for approval from the Malta Public Transport experts.