Eighty urban, township, and village communities in 23 regions of Ukraine urgently need used buses as humanitarian aid. They need a total of 744 buses over the next 12 months.

This is the outcome of the first phase of the “Buses for Ukraine” initiative, launched by the NGO Vision Zero and the Association of Energy Efficient Cities of Ukraine (AEECU), the CFTS portal reports.

Eight regional centers—Kharkiv, Zaporizhia, Mykolaiv, Chernihiv, Poltava, Rivne, Chernivtsi, and Lviv—have said that they need a total of 428 additional buses.

These cities primarily need standard (12-meter) or high-capacity (18-meter) buses to improve transportation services on bus routes and serve as a backup means of transport during days or weeks of energy restrictions by temporarily serving tram or trolleybus routes or even duplicating subway lines.

However, most applications came from small and medium-sized communities. Some already have functioning municipal transport enterprises and aim to strengthen their operations. Examples include Konotop, Trostianets, Chortkiv, Boiarka, Bucha, Kostopil, Haivoron, Horodok, Vyzhnytsia, and Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi.

Half of the applications (41) came from even smaller communities with populations ranging from 1,000 to 25,000, including rural and township communities. Based on discussions with rural and township leaders, the authors assess the transportation situation in rural communities as critical.

"Many people in villages have completely lost the ability to travel to community centers because private carriers refuse to service bus routes. Community leaders are seeking opportunities to receive one or two small buses from abroad to provide at least social transportation, for example, once a day or once a week," said Viktor Zahreba, chairman of the board of Vision Zero and founder of the "Buses for Ukraine" initiative.

The organizers of the initiative’s project generally support and promote electric public transport, as it is the most climate-friendly and causes the least air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. However, in wartime conditions, they consider buses a necessary and justified solution, despite their use of diesel or natural gas.

"Receiving and using used buses is in line with the principles of sustainable urban mobility and the current situation in Ukraine. Firstly, any mode of public transport is better for the climate and cities than private cars. Transportation of people in buses generates about half the emissions per passenger kilometer compared to cars. Secondly, due to the energy crisis caused by the aggression against our energy system and the ongoing restrictions and blackouts, cities increasingly need buses as replacement transport because it may be impossible to use electric transportation for extended periods. Thirdly, cities also need to replace buses destroyed by missile strikes," said Sviatoslav Pavliuk, executive director of the Association of Energy Efficient Cities of Ukraine.

The initiative's organizers believe that the technical aspect is important to ensure that cities receive buses they can effectively use and maintain.

"Many cities have already received used buses from the EU, but these are often buses of different sizes, manufacturers, and conditions. This is particularly problematic for medium and small communities. Suppose a city receives 10 buses, including 3 Mercedes, 2 MAN, 2 Solaris, 2 Volvo, and 1 Irisbus. In that case, maintenance issues will arise quickly because these buses differ in every aspect, making it practically impossible to maintain a stock of spare parts," said Anton Hagen, an expert with Vision Zero and the co-coordinator of the "Buses for Ukraine" initiative.

The next phase of the initiative involves searching for and selecting functional used buses for Ukrainian communities. To this end, the organizations have already contacted several city associations and transport associations, and they are seeking to establish contact with associations and pro-Ukrainian NGOs in the European Union that can assume the role of local representatives of the initiative.