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Seoul Claims Commercial Electric Bus Service A World First


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Seoul, South Korea is claiming a world first with a fully-electric commercial bus route introduced in the city last month. The eco-friendly buses are running on a Seoul mountain circular route but more routes are planned.

t looks like an ordinary commuter bus but city officials in Seoul, South Korea are proclaiming it as part of a system that can found be nowhere else in the world - a commercial electric bus service.

Spokesperson Cho Yoonjin says it's a great achievement.

[Choo Yoonjin, Seoul Metropolitan Government]:
"Other cities around the world have developed electric buses but most of these buses were used for purpose of the events. However, the city of Seoul has developed these electric buses for commercial operation and we believe that this is the first time in the world to have these electric buses to go into operation for commercial use."

The city has introduced five electric buses operating on three routes around Namsan Mountain in central Seoul.

The buses may look no different to their diesel driven counterparts, but they're engines are powered by clean, high-capacity lithium-ion batteries.

Their bodies are made of a strong but lightweight carbon-fibre composite, and the vehicles can travel about 80 kilometers - or fifty miles - on a single charge, a process which takes about 30 minutes.

They can also collect and reuse the energy generated by their brakes when running downhill.

Bus driver Yoo-Tae Soo says there's room for improvement, but he's enthusiastic about the idea.

[Yoo Tae-Soo, Electric Bus Driver]:
"Recharging is a little bit frequent for the length of the route and the time it takes to recharge should be improved. However, this is very positive when it comes to the eco-friendly concept."

And for passengers, there's little difference in the commuting experience.

[Cho Hyun-Hee, Passenger]:
"I'm still not quite familiar with the electric bus, but I don't' feel much difference compared to a regular bus in terms of feeling comfortable to ride it."

Seoul transportation officials say they plan to replace half the city's diesel-driven buses with electric versions by 2020...a gradual move away from fossil fuels with a strategy they say is sure to catch on around the world.

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