How Tbilisi is improving human health and driving its transit fleet into the future
Tbilisi is the capital of the country of Georgia and home to one-third of the country's population. Georgia ranks near the top of all countries in the rate of deaths due to outdoor air pollution. Tbilisi's location, between Europe and Asia, ensures its position as an important transit route for energy and trade projects
A surge in tourists and the growth of the local population were straining Tbilisi's aging transit bus fleet. Tbilisi's 143 new compressed natural gas (CNG) buses can comfortably accommodate passengers of all abilities and ages. They also run more frequently and reliably, reaching areas previously not covered.
- Tbilisi's new CNG buses have made the city's public buses more tourist-friendly as they conform to safety standards on par with European Union regulations and connect Tbilisi's airport with the downtown area
- The MAN buses with Hexagon Agility's CNG fuel systems meet EURO VI emissions standards, significantly lowering Tbilisi's output of smog-forming NOx and reducing CO2 emissions by 450,000 tons a year
Friendlier to Tourists
Located between Europe and Asia, near the lucrative Silk Road, Tbilisi has long been located along an important transit route. Recently, the capital city of Georgia became a tourist destination. This was a problem for the city’s aging infrastructure. Fortunately, the citizens of Tbilisi weren’t the only ones who noticed.
The European Union, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), and the EBRD Shareholder Special Fund have all given donations to support the modernization and revitalization of Tbilisi’s transportation infrastructure, including a supply of up to 200 modern, new, low-floor CNG buses.
143 have already been put into circulation, allowing Tbilisi’s public transportation system to now comfortably accommodate passengers of all abilities and ages. These CNG buses also run more frequently and reliably, reaching areas previously not covered, and include a new route that connects Tbilisi’s airport with its downtown area.
"I've been transporting passengers in the city for a good number of years," said Gela Modebadze, who has 40 years of bus-driving experience and is a fan of the positive changes. "I have to say that these new buses have exceeded our expectations. They are so modern and environmentally friendly, too. They are certainly superior to the previous buses.”
Better Air Quality
In Tbilisi, reducing air pollution from buses isn’t just a perk, it’s a matter of life or death. The country of Georgia ranks first in the world in per capita deaths due to air pollution. And emissions from aging diesel vehicles is a significant contributor to poor air quality in Tbilisi.
"Eighty-five percent of air pollution is caused by car emissions," explains Otar Gelashvili, Professor of Transportation Studies at the Georgian Technical University. "It is crucial to have modern, eco-friendly public transport in Tbilisi."
Tbilisi's USD $412 million project to implement its new transportation plans is expected to reduce annual CO2 emissions by around 450,000 tons and to save around 55 million cubic meters of water per year. It will also result in a dramatic reduction in the amount of toxic air emissions, including hydrocarbons, and especially NOx and particular matter, the latter of which includes black carbon (PM2.5).
"I have to say that these new [CNG] buses, are certainly superior to the previous buses.”
A More Modern Tbilisi
A historic city with eclectic architecture, Tbilisi has realized some relics aren’t worth holding onto. Its slogan "New modern buses, for new modern Tbilisi," reflects the EBRD's intention of modernizing public transport in Tbilisi and Georgia. And Agility Fuel Solutions was able to help with the transformation. Leveraging its technology and global reach, Agility provided CNG fuel systems for Tbilisi’s new buses, with lightweight ECE R110-certified cylinders designed and manufactured in Lincoln, Nebraska and systems engineered and assembled in Raufoss, Norway.
The buses’ low-floor adaptation and energy-saving technologies are also pioneering. And these pioneering new buses needed a new home: in July 2017, Tbilisi Transport Company announced the opening of the new CNG bus fueling station in Tbilisi, Georgia. The new CNG bus station consists of No. 3 SAFE 400 Kw compressors and eight high-capacity dispensers. It will serve a modern public transport fleet of 300 environmentally friendly buses. And, to go along with this modern fleet, Tbilisi is restructuring its bus network and bus lanes.
Tbilisi's transportation overhaul isn’t just making the city more pleasant to live in and to visit. It’s also winning awards. In May 2017, on behalf of the city, Tbilisi’s Mayor Davit Narmania received the EBRD Sustainability Award in the category for best Environment and Social Innovation.