How to utilize an electric bus depot as a public charging station

By providing more accessible public charging stations to private EV owners, public transport operators, and eBus fleet managers, we can speed up the transition towards eMobility.  

One way we can do this is to make eBus depots suitable for public charging. Doing so would provide a number of important benefits. Creating additional charging capacity from existing infrastructure, encouraging the adoption of EVs by removing a barrier to charging, and unlocking additional revenue for eFleet operators, to name a few.

In this article we break down exactly what measures, infrastructure, and technology is needed to ensure that an electric bus depot can also function as a public charging station for EVs.  

Utilizing electric bus depots as public charging stations

To make sure that an electric bus depot is suitable for public EV charging, several infrastructure requirements need to be met. Here are some of the critical components:

Electrical infrastructure  

For public EV charging to run smoothly, it’s absolutely essential that the bus depot has a robust electrical infrastructure in place. An adequate and reliable power supply will be needed to support the simultaneous charging of multiple vehicles, and the infrastructure should be designed to support high-power charging.

Power distribution equipment, and a backup power supply are also crucial electrical elements that need to be in place for public charging to operate successfully.  

Charging stations  

This might seem like an obvious one; of course, a bus depot will need charging stations if it’s going to be used for public charging. But while an electric bus depot will already be equipped with charging stations, the existing stations might not be compatible with the majority of electric vehicles.  

There are various different types of charging stations available, and different EVs are compatible with different types of charging depending on the make and age of the vehicle.  

So to make public charging as widely accessible as possible, bus depots should be equipped with all types of EV charging stations. In North America, this would currently include Combined Charging System (CCS), Tesla Supercharger, and CHAdeMO charging stations.  

Fast charging stations should also be installed for vehicles that need to charge up extra fast.

Energy management system

To ensure that the bus depot’s power supply is used efficiently and effectively, an energy management system will also be required. These systems can be used to manage the load of each charging station by distributing the load across multiple charging points in an optimal manner.  

So when multiple vehicles are being charged at once, the energy management system will distribute the power in a way that optimizes the charging times for all vehicles. This allows vehicles to come and go as quickly as possible, an essential requirement for all public charging stations.

Network connectivity

It’s also important to equip charging stations with network connectivity. This makes remote management and monitoring of the charging process possible, and also allows for monitoring and control of the charging infrastructure.  

This gives depot managers the ability to schedule charging times, monitor the charging status of each bus, perform remote diagnostics/repairs, and also track energy usage.  

Internet connectivity, a payment system, remote monitoring/control software, and security features like firewalls, intrusion detection, and encryption are all critical components of a functional network connectivity setup.

Safety features

Before opening a bus depot up for public charging, several safety features should be in place to ensure that it's a safe environment for the public to visit. Some important features to consider would be:

  • Clear warning signs should be made visible around all the charging equipment to inform people about potential hazards. Instructions explaining how to properly use the charging equipment should also be provided.
  • The entire electrical system should be properly grounded to prevent electric shock and electrocution, and ground fault protection devices should be installed on the charging equipment.
  • All chargers should also have emergency stop buttons installed that allow power to be quickly shut off in case of emergency.
  • To prevent fires and damage to the electrical system, overcurrent protection is also necessary.
  • It’s also important for the bus depot to have sufficient ventilation. This is necessary for the removal of hazardous gases, and to prevent charging equipment from overheating.  
  • Providing all personnel working at the bus depot with comprehensive safety training is also critical for the public’s safety. All staff should be familiar with potential hazards, and understand how to respond in event of emergency.  

Signage and parking management

For a public charging station to function efficiently, EV drivers need to know where to go. Clear signage should be installed to direct drivers to charging stations, and sufficient parking space must also be made available. Parking areas should also be adequately marked so drivers can clearly tell the difference between parking and charging areas.  

Maintenance and service

With all of the discussed infrastructure in place, a bus depot should be perfectly capable of functioning as a public charging station. But to keep it that way, regular service and maintenance is crucial. All the charging technology and other infrastructure should be constantly checked, and kept in good working order.  

That way the depot will remain reliable, efficient, and safe for public use; helping to support the transition towards eMobility in the process.  

At Heliox, supporting this transition is at the core of everything we do.

Heliox: Working to support the transition towards eMobility

Heliox is a specialist in EV charging installation, maintenance, and operation, and is a market leader in rapid charging solutions. Driving the world’s e-mobility transition to create a sustainable future for all is absolutely central to the company’s mission.  

By collaborating, researching, and innovating to deliver tailor-made smart energy management solutions, Heliox works to support its customers in their transition to sustainable e-mobility.

Heliox is committed to implementing charging solutions at every scale to support the energy transition, and has developed a range of affordable, high-powered EV charging points that are suitable for domestic, commercial, and mass-transit systems

If you’d like to find out more about Heliox charging solutions — including end-to-end implementation of eFleet services — don’t hesitate to contact us today.  

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