Following the end of the European COMPRO project, the French cities of Nantes and Angers decided to jointly purchase several articulated hybrid buses. The cities together drafted common technical specifications and officially published the procurement tender in June 2011. At the end of 2012 five buses were acquired in total, three for Nantes and two for Angers.
The initiative by these two French cities was a logical continuation of the COMPRO project which aimed to analyse conditions by which common procurement of public service transport vehicles could take place. Nantes Métropole and Angers Loire Métropole, together with their transport operators, Semitan and Keolis Angers respectively, decided to co-operate for the acquisition of innovative vehicles in order to share the benefits and the lessons of such procurement.
Prior to the publication of the tender, Nantes and Angers worked closely together to define their respective and common needs and aims, and thus determine the type of vehicle which would best fit usage. Both cities wanted to experiment with sustainable and innovative vehicles for public transport. This procurement was therefore an ideal opportunity to test hybrid technology before potentially launching a larger procurement process. The documentation made an explicit reference to the European directive on the Promotion of Clean and Energy Efficient Road Transport Vehicles (2009/33/EC). It clearly stated that the vehicles should be hybrid (diesel-electric) articulated buses. Angers and Nantes received two offers and made their choice based mainly on two criteria: the price and the operability of the vehicles. Regarding environmental impact, pollutant emissions (CO2, NOx and PM) were included in the life-cycle costs. Each vehicle was purchased for €520 000 and financed by Nantes Métropole and Angers Loire Métropole for their own respective buses. The local authorities received a €15 000 subsidy per bus from ADEME, the French Environment and Energy Management Agency.
In terms of environmental results, the process proved to be a success for both cities as fuel consumption and emissions of CO2, NOx and PM have decreased by approximately 30 per cent (compared to the use of diesel buses). In addition, the local authorities received excellent feedback from residents about the decrease in noise pollution. However, beyond these positive results, the two local authorities are very cautious about the new technology, as these innovative vehicles remain more expensive to purchase and less reliable to operate than other buses in their fleets.
The joint procurement process itself was a positive experience for both cities. They stress the necessity of close co-operation between the partners and an agreement about their respective objectives and agendas from the start.