A driver stands in front of a Chinese-made electric bus ready to leave for Cali at a bus station in Yumbo, Colombia, Sept. 10, 2019. (Photo: Xinhua)
A fleet of Chinese-made electric and gas-powered buses Tuesday joined the mass transit system in Cali, the third largest city in Colombia.
A ceremony to inaugurate the 26 electric and 21 gas-powered buses drew officials from the government and mass transit system, including Cali Mayor Maurice Armitage, who hailed the event as "a step in the right direction" for sustainable urban development in Cali.
"While Cali does not have the degree of pollution that cities like Medellin and Bogota have, purchasing these vehicles is the first step towards establishing an ecological city and preventing (environmental) deterioration," said Armitage.
The city plans to introduce more electric buses in the near future, he added.
"These first 26 electric buses are the pride of Cali. Another 110 buses will arrive in a month and a half, and we will seek to close the bidding on another 300 buses by the end of the year," said Armitage.
Eduardo Bellini, manager of "Blanco y Negro Masivo" (Black and White Mass Transit), a private transportation operator that works for the city's mass transit system, said the new vehicles his company bought from Chinese firm Sunwin are designed with features to improve riding experience.
"These are very comfortable zero-pollution buses that are easy to access for passengers, with low, comfortable platforms and air-conditioning," said Bellini.
"In fact, the only noise you can hear inside the vehicle is the sound of air-conditioning. Its engine is completely silent," said Bellini.
The buses also feature seats with USB ports and energy-saving LED lighting. Passengers can charge their mobiles and other gadgets while commuting.
"The Chinese have been driving the evolution of this technology. They are the developers of this technology on a large scale," said Bellini.
Also present at the event were representatives of Sunwin, including engineer Zhao Qingzhen, who said each bus is designed to be safe and inclusive, taking into account local conditions and needs.
"The vehicle has a sophisticated surveillance system (and) boarding and de-boarding platforms for the disabled," said Zhao.
"It is designed especially for the conditions of Cali. It is modern and adapts well to local culture," added Zhao.
Cali resident Zaira Munosca said she supported the city's decision to introduce the Chinese-made electric buses.
"It contributes to the environment ... by doing away with fossil fuels. I'm very happy to see these electric buses being used," said Munosca.