Zero-emission target for Bergen city buses in Norway!

10/12/2020

Keolis, supported by Societe Generale, is expanding its footprint in Norway and taking a new step in its strategy for sustainable mobility with the operation of its first 100% carbon-free bus network in the city of Bergen.

In the midst of mountains and fjords, stands the city of Bergen. Located on the southwest coast of Norway, it is the second largest city in the country behind Oslo, the capital. Starting point for many exchanges between Europe and Norway, the city enjoys an intense cultural life, proximity to the sea, international relations and its university hub, and has a population of nearly 300,000 inhabitants. Residents who can now benefit from a 100% carbon-free bus network.

In June 2019, following a call for tenders, the Bergen public transport authority (Skyss) awarded Keolis the operation of its first bus network in Norway, which began on December 1, 2020. The fleet of 138 buses, running exclusively on alternative energies and mainly on electricity, operates in the center and west areas of the city. They are expected to run a total of 5.7 million kilometers and carry 17 million passengers every year.  About 50 tonnes of CO2 per year are saved when a diesel bus is replaced by an electric vehicle. Putting these carbon-free buses into service will thus reduce CO2 emissions by around 85% over the life of the contract and will help provide a better quality of life for Bergen residents and tourists. This ten-year contract will generate cumulative revenues for the operator of over 400 million euros.

Keolis is one of the world leaders in shared mobility and each year transports more than 3 billion travelers in fifteen countries across five continents. With this new network, the Group now operates nearly 3,800 low-carbon buses in France and internationally, demonstrating its expertise in sustainable mobility. Keolis is also strengthening its presence in Norway, where it has already been operating the Bergen city tram network since 2010. Under this new contract, 285 drivers were transferred from the incumbent operator or recruited externally, and were both trained to drive this type of vehicle. The infrastructure of the network's bus depot, located in Mannsverk near Bergen, has also been upgraded to be able to charge up to 91 buses simultaneously overnight.
 

“ We are pleased to have worked with Societe Generale on our first sizeable lease financing for fossil free bus fleets. The cross-border nature of the transaction as well as the number of parties involved brought some complexity, and Societe Generale team’s flexibility and responsiveness has been much appreciated throughout the process. ”

Julie Watremez
Head of Structured Finance, Keolis Group

Societe Generale acted as lease arranger, sole lender and agent for the financing of the fossil-free buses for Keolis in Norway.

“ We are proud to have worked alongside Keolis to take a further step in favor of sustainable mobility. Demonstrating our client focus and ability to provide innovative solutions, this landmark transaction is an important milestone as it is the very first in this field involving a structured finance solution and has since paved the way for many more in an extremely fast-growing market. This success is perfectly aligned with Societe Generale’s commitment to play a key role in the ecological transition, in particular by supporting its clients in projects that have a positive impact on the environment and society. ”

Olivier Bros
Head of Asset-Based Finance, Societe Generale.