FIRST Busworld in Kazakhstan - first BUSWORLF for Central Asia

The first edition of Busworld Central Asia was held in Almaty, Kazakhstan, from 25 to 27 June 2019. Companies from China Turkey, Russia, Tajikistan, Belarus and Uzbekistan made a trip to Kazakhstan with their 24 vehicles. For now Kazakhstan does not have full-chain production (assembling and distribution only).

The business programme brought together near 40 speakers from all over the world to discuss best practices and global problems in touch with Central Asian view.

In 2018 UITP and Busworld announced long-term cooperation, in its frames going all-around the world Busworld are carried out in conjunction with UITP events. It took place in Kortrijk, Moscow, Jakarta, and the next one was Almaty.

Public transport in Kazakhstan is given a lot of attention. Almaty is leading the process of active development, showing a model for Central Asia.

At the opening ceremony of the event, Baurzhan Baibek, akim (mayor) of Almaty noted that the exhibition is an indicator of high confidence in country, as BUSWORLD is held for the first time not only in Kazakhstan, but also in the entire Central Asian. He also noted that the reforms in the transport system are carried out in the right direction and the first results are seen. The reforms allowed the city to renew the bus fleet by 80%, by the end of the year it will be 100% The vehicle purchases will continue as it is necessary to increase vehicle number 4 times. As the mayor noted, 122 km of dedicated bus lanes have already been introduced on 22 streets of the city. According to akim, public transport goes three times faster than private cars even during peak hours. Bring public transport out of grey (shadow) market, gave the opportunity to attract more investments to the sector. There was introduced a new electric bus produced in Kazakhstan as a result of cooperation of companies from Hong-Kong, Kazakhstan and Germany. It’s battery system allows to run for 500 km.

UITP-Busworld round tables were devoted to trends and challengers in e-bus development. As Jan Deman, Director Buswold Academy stressed. There is no  doubt about the electromobility as the bus future, the discussions are all about technology choice, this choice is made by operators taking into account local specifics.

Kanat Baygonyrov, deputy head of Almaty transport committee, informed about 3 year transport reforms in Almaty, which led to 1 mln passengers day flow. Metro with its 9 stations makes 4% of passenger transportation, but 2 stations are in construction and 1 station is in the design process. Almaty LRT is now finalizing the 1st tender stage with plans to be open in 2023. BRT system is working. Infrastructure is developed with smart streetlights. GPS is introduced. The information on developments of Transport Holding of Almaty could be obtained at a booth dedicated to their ticketing system called Onay. The renewal of the fleet and the increase of the use of public transport are the priorities. Financing of a new fleet is a big challenge, since 1 municipal and 13 privately owned companies operate the public transport. All city drivers were recently tested to be included into drivers database. All drivers are now wearing uniform.

Two models of electric mobility were given in case studies of two biggest Russian cities. Eduard Pokrovsky, Mosgortrans (Russia) presented experience of Moscow operator in introducing electric buses in Moscow. Andrei Ulanov, Gorelectrotrans (Russia), presented the process of enriching the transport system of St. Petersburg with electric buses with extended run (or trolleybuses with autonomous run). The participants had a unique chance to compare two electromobility systems in figures and facts. Mr Ulanov stated the thermostating problem as more complicated as the problem of battery type choice. According to St. Petersburg operator, batteries work better in cold conditions than in hot, as the cooling requires more troubleshooting. In addition, Beibut Yeszhanov, Astana LRT, presented Astana ebus test results in wintertime. During 7 days, ebus made 1.5 th. km. Daily battery’s charge remainder was 15%. The high price is remaining the main obstacle for purchases.

Two producers (Belcommunmash and GAZ) presented their experience in ebus designing, that was followed by hot discussions on ebus investment cost, cost of infrastructure, future of battery developments.

All participants agree that city‘s public transport reflect the level of city economic prosperity, but the vehicle should fit into city and route specifics

The discussions were continued with financing and funding of public transport development. Jan Jennings, EBRD, presented programs and case studies of program implementation in different cities, explaining the ay how to work with EBRD. Rakhi Basu, World Bank, showcased the ebus purchases in Calcutta, where flexibility in route planning was a great support for introductions.

All presentations are available on BusworldCentral Asia site.