The city of Hamura, located on the western end of the Tokyo metropolitan area started Japan’s very first regular bus route serviced solely with an electric vehicle last Friday, March 10th. The electric bus is operated and maintained by Nisi Tokyo Bus, and is owned by the city.
A Sense of Community
Hamura City has had community bus routes running since 2005; the bus service, locally known as “Hamuran,” been running the same three routes for the past seven years. The new EV bus route, called “Denki Bus” (or “the electric bus”) by locals, is running a new 4.6 mile route between Hamura Station and Ozaku station on the JR Oume line.
The electric bus will service locations such as City Hall, Hamura’s civic center, and the public library. Each trip – no matter how far along the route a passenger goes – will cost 100 yen, or about $1.20 USD. The vehicle’s charging facilities are outside City Hall, and it will run its route 3 times in the morning and 4 in the afternoon.
Electric Bus Conversion
Hamura’s new electric ride isn’t a production model – it’s a converted version of a Poncho Long. Instead of a conventional combustion engine, the bus has an electric motor with a maximum output of 200kW. The base model for the bus is produced by Hino Motors, and Hino also did the conversion to electric for the city.
A normal ICE Poncho costs somewhere in the neighborhood of $250,000 USD, and the electric version’s price tag was four times that of a standard Poncho. The Japanese federal government and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government each picked up half the tab, leaving Hamura City with only the cost of additional bus stops and running the bus itself (pretty good deal, if you ask me).
While possibly not entirely cost-effective, The Electric Bus is both cute and zero emission. I’d ride it if I were anywhere in the area, and hopefully more cities will follow Hamura’s example. What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.