Plan for the electrification of public transport in CABA LAIF Initiative on Cities and Climate Change

Our previous edition published the Diagnosis of the Circular Economy and Decarbonization in the City of Buenos Aires. In that document, we found that electrifying transport, which requires accelerating the energy transition, is a feasible option and would prevent thousands of tonnes of fossil fuel emissions from entering the environment, which is a fundamental driver for a circular economy.

We addressed the Climate Action Plan 2050, which establishes measures, instruments, and strategies for adapting to climate change and reducing emissions, and highlighted three major sectors: energy, transport, and waste. Looking more deeply into the area of transport, we identified specific objectives for 2050:

  • 100% zero-emission buses
  • 80% of passengers using public and non-motorized transport
  • 100% low-emission private cars


These objectives are part of the Clean Mobility Plan (PML for its Spanish acronym), which aims to improve the quality of life of a country's inhabitants. The PML Plan seeks to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), and polluting gases, such as nitrous oxide (NOx) and particulate matter (PM), generated by internal combustion engine vehicles.

While possible, we concluded that achieving these goals requires a comprehensive transition approach to a circular economy that puts the individual at the center and has public transport as the primary source of mobility and improving quality of life. To implement this, we also discussed the importance of obtaining financial support from multilateral lending organizations to finance the studies and execution of PMLs for the region and the country. A concrete example of the potential of such instruments is the Latin America Investment Facility (LAIF). This financial instrument combines non-refundable monetary assistance from the European Union with loans from Latin American development agencies, multilateral or bilateral institutions, and development banks. LAIF's main objective is to promote infrastructure investments in Latin America and the Caribbean in key sectors including transport, energy, environment, climate change mitigation and adaptation, as well as social and private sector development in Latin America.

LAIF's Cities and Climate Change program is a specific initiative implemented by the Latin American Development Bank (CAF) and the French Development Agency (AFD) to promote low-carbon and climate-resilient development in Latin American cities.

Regarding electrification, the study proposes a series of economic, technical, environmental, and social criteria to identify the replacement of vehicles and bus routes with electric alternatives at each phase. We conducted this pre-feasibility study in three stages:

The first stage of the study consisted of a situation analysis, a definition of specific indicators, and identifying opportunities for fleet renewal. The first analysis identified opportunities and challenges at a national and district level for implementing electric mobility in four key areas: economic, institutional, environmental, and regulatory. Key findings pointed to lower operating costs of electric buses and a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, leading to better air quality and improved public health. Results also included reaching agreements with technology providers or energy operators and introducing regulations that further the inclusion of minimum levels of electric vehicles on public transport fleets.

The second stage of the study outlined the fleet renewal strategy and the technical and operational feasibility of including battery-powered buses in urban public transport systems. At the same time, it identified the most appropriate routes to start with and the recommended number of vehicles to make it feasible. At this stage, researchers studied how to adapt the project to the city's current fleet renewal and emissions reduction plans, such as the Clean Mobility Plan 2017-2035 or the Climate Action Plan 2020-2050.

Likewise, the study looked at the goals and commitments set for electromobility in other Latin American cities, paying particular attention to those with the highest rates of fleet renewal. The latter include cities such as Bogotá (Colombia), with 297 vehicles renewed per year; San José (Costa Rica), with 156 vehicles per year; Medellín (Colombia), with 134; and Santiago (Chile), with 83. In this second stage, the project's short, medium, and long-term implementation phases were proposed and validated.

In the third stage, the promoters of the LAIF initiative, together with the Secretariat of Transport and Public Works of the city of Buenos Aires, defined a set of short-, medium- and long-term implementation phases for the project.

The LAIF initiative on Cities and Climate Change completed the research on the electrification of public transport in Buenos Aires. Results suggested three phases for implementing electrification: Phase 1 consists of renewing 300 buses with electric ones by 2025, resulting in 50 million trips made per year in the city on electrified transport, thus reducing emissions by 9,000 tons of CO2eq per year. In phase 2, some 900 buses would be renewed with electric ones by 2035, reaching 50% of the total fleet, while in phase 3, the renewal rate would reach 1,800 units by 2050 and 100% of the fleet. With that in mind, carbon emissions reduction could reach 70,000 tons of CO2e annually, and 300 million trips would be made using electric vehicles.

These numbers demonstrate the critical role that electric mobility plays in making cities more sustainable and achieving the objectives of carbon neutrality by 2050.