Public transport


Wiener Linien Electric Bus Lines
Wiener Linien, Vienna’s city owned transport company 

Who needs to act?

City’s public transportation operator(s) with municipalities. 

Who is affected?

Greener public transportation being a solution to the city’s energy, and environmental challenges affects each citizen helping to bring a better quality of life for them. Ultimately all individuals, families, communities, benefits from a cleaner public transportation system.


Creation of a zero-emission zone in the historic center with low emissions in the wider center by converting bus lines for operation of electric vehicles. Acquisition of purely electric buses and substituting the existing conventionally fueled ones to run on the dedicated zero-emission lines. Cities faced with difficulty to have new power lines installed for the charging of the buses can use the existing electric power line networks such as of trams or trolley buses solution that might involve the development of new technology.


Overall investment is very medium to high. The main costs are related to the acquisition of electric buses (€400,000 each); installment of the charging points along the lines, at each end station (€90,000 each) and at the bus depot (€320,000); development of new technology to allow existing power lines to be used for recharging of buses along the lines. Additional costs: training of bus drivers, organization of campaigns for passengers to be aware of their use of greener transport technologies.

Return of investment

According to calculations of the Technical University of Graz, “ElectriCitybusse” reduces emissions of CO2 by 5.3t, of NO by 1.7t and of NO2 by 0.06t per year compared to the liquid gas buses which had been used before.

Increase of energy efficiency in public transportation in the historic city center.

Other resources to be used

Existing power line network for trams, trolley buses; innovative technologies for charging of the buses.

Available tools

Wiener Linien Electric Bus Lines - the first 12 fully-electric midibus fleet in service to operate in the historic city centre, on two bus service routes in Vienna as from autumn 2012. Vienna, in its efforts to reduce emissions and create a cleaner and quieter environment in the historical city centre, introduced electric buses into the public transportation system, using the city’s old tram charging infrastructure to power these buses.

Striving to be the leading city in green transportation of 2012, Vienna elaborated an e-mobility strategy having as aim to reduce personal motorised transport to less than 20% in 2025. The initiative for purchasing electric buses came from Wiener Linien, Vienna’s public transport operator, a subsidiary of Wiener Stadtwerke Holding AG, with ownership held by the City of Vienna. The city decided to create a zero-emission zone in the historic centre with low emissions in the wider centre. Viennese buses, powered by LPG, have been gradually being substituted by other more efficient low emissions buses.

As the two bus lines that crossed the zero-emissions zone in the historic centre, zero-emission electric buses needed to be purchased in order to operate on them.

As planning and building permits for new power lines or charging stations in the historic environment were difficult to obtain, Vienna decided to use the existing network of overhead tram power lines to recharge the electric buses which, however, required the development of new technology.

An extensive market research and testing phase followed so as to find the most appropriate buses that meet with the required technological characteristics, the given conditions and circumstances in the city and the transport habits of the citizens as well. After the identification of the best solution on the market an open tender followed for electric buses. Two out of the four companies which took part in the test phase participated at the tender which was awarded to the consortium of Siemens/Rampini

Main steps of implementation

  1. Adopting of e-mobility measures as pilot measures within the existing sustainable urban mobility strategy
  2. Creation of zero emission lines (lines on which only zero emission electric buses are allowed)
  3. Setting up the necessary charging infrastructure: identification of innovative technology to use the existing power networks (of trams, trolley buses)
  4. Extensive market research and contacting phase with electric bus providers to identify the best available solutions for the city’s conditions
  5. Testing phase with the identified potential technological solutions
  6. Tendering for the purchase of electric buses
  7. Awareness raising activities among citizens
  8. Training on how to drive the electric buses provided for all bus drivers
  9. Contract monitoring and management of the implemented solution in order to demonstrate the expected results

Expected results

Reduction of energy consumption.
Reduction of CO2 emissions due to energy savings.
The reduction of CO2 emissions if the energy is sourced from green alternative sources.
Other impacts: noise level and particulate matter reduction.

Contribution to SEAP & indicators

CO2 emission and energy consumption reduction.
Increase in the use of energy produced from renewable sources.

How to integrate in SEAP?

It can be included in a SEAP as an Action to reduce CO2 emissions.

Contribution to SUMP & indicators

Reduction of air pollutants;
Reduction of noise within the city

How to integrate in SUMP?

As dedicated measure responding to several objectives (reduction of energy consumption, reduction of GES and other pollutants.

Lessons learned

The operating costs of the electric buses offset some expenses (lower price for the energy needed for public transportation, maintenance for electric buses costs about one third compared with diesel buses).

Quick charging can be done during the time passengers get on and get off the bus. With this recharging technique, it is possible to install a smaller battery system leaving more space to passengers, increased useful load and also batteries last longer because they are always being fully recharged.

The environmental and social impacts caused by the battery production should also be considered. Therefore, the city has begun to investigate how batteries could be reprocessed and reused, instead of being disposed of.