- An ADB project in the Kyrgyz Republic is helping Bishkek to improve air quality, enhance energy security, and address traffic congestion.
- A 3.5-kilometer green mobility pilot corridor will increase bus speed and improve service reliability of public transport for Bishkek city residents.
- The ADB-supported Urban Transport Electrification Project will finance the purchase of 120 modern, battery-electric buses that will replace outdated diesel and trolleybuses.
The Urban Transport Electrification Project, which comprises a $25 million loan, a $25 million grant, and $650,000 in cofinancing from the High-Level Technology Fund, will finance the purchase of 120 modern, battery-electric buses that will replace outdated diesel and trolleybuses in Bishkek. The project will also upgrade the infrastructure of two trolleybus depots and establish a 3.5-kilometer green mobility pilot corridor to increase bus speed and improve service reliability of public transport in Bishkek city center.
The transport sector is a major contributor to air pollution in Bishkek. The soaring number of urban passenger vehicles and minibuses has led to a significant deterioration of air quality in Bishkek over the past years.
The electric buses will be accessible for disabled and elderly passengers as well as women with children. They will be equipped with security features such as cameras and panic buttons. ADB will also improve bus operations in Bishkek by helping to improve operational efficiency, financial sustainability and developing bus drivers’ knowledge and skills.
The newly introduced electric bus fleet will use domestically produced renewable energy, benefitting from one of the greenest grids in the Central Asian region.
The Kyrgyz Republic capital of Bishkek sits at the foot of the majestic Ala Too mountains.
But its beautiful views are obscured by a pervasive smog that makes Bishkek one of the world’s most polluted cities.
The smog is largely made up of microscopic dust particles that are harmful to health.
These particles are emitted from heating, home cooking, industry, and the city’s coal-fired combined-heat and power station.
But with the number of cars in Bishkek quadrupling since 2005, transport has emerged as the largest polluter over the past two decades.
Ajar Baisalova, Environmental Campaigner, Urban Hub:
"We have a trolleybus network, it is limited, the one that remains from the Soviet period. We have public transport, these are buses and a very large network of minibuses, which ensures the movement of citizens from the most remote parts of the city. The biggest part is, of course, private cars. And more than 90% of them are over 15 years old."
The economic and social costs of air pollution are staggering, affecting health and productivity.
Between 2011 and 2015, respiratory diseases increased by 20% in Bishkek.
The World Health Organization has estimated that high levels of air pollution cause 400 premature deaths a year in the country.
Gulnaz, Mother of asthma sufferer:
"My daughter had obstructive bronchitis, somewhere around the age of four, and then, two years later, she was diagnosed with bronchial asthma."
Dr. Muhtar Ashiraliev, Head of Allergology Department, National Centre for Maternal and Child Health:
"When particles enter the lungs, it causes hyperreactivity and swelling occurs. Since children are shorter, they're more prone to inhaling all the exhaust gases."
Buses emit about half of all transport-related PM2.5 emissions in Bishkek.
This is why the ADB-supported Urban Transport Electrification Project is helping provide electric buses to rapidly reduce the number of dangerous particles in the air.
Maksat Nusuvaliev, Head, Bishkek Transport Department:
"120 electric buses will allow us to completely renew our fleet. And a crucial factor that we should be aware of is that these electric buses have zero tailpipe emissions of substances harmful to the environment."
A pilot green mobility corridor will also improve infrastructure for buses, cyclists, and pedestrians.
The project is crucial in addressing problems in both public transport and health in the city.
Kanokpan Lao-Araya, Former Country Director for the Kyrgyz Republic, Asian Development Bank
“We are delighted to be helping improve the quality of life in the city. As Asia and the Pacific’s climate bank – ADB is also pleased to support the Kyrgyz’s Republic’s effort towards a long-term low-carbon transition."