The transition to zero-emission buses in public transport – The need for institutional innovation

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - europe, place - urban, mode - bus, technology - alternative fuels, technology - emissions, policy - sustainable, policy - environment, economics - capital costs, organisation - regulation


Electric buses, Electric mobility, Public transport, Innovation, Institutional innovation


Zero-emission buses (ZEBs) are considered a vital element in the transition to a more sustainable (urban) transport system. Both battery-electric and hydrogen fuel cell buses do however face significant barriers to large-scale implementation. These barriers, e.g. high investment costs and limited driving range, are generally regarded as exogenous technological barriers which are beyond the sphere of influence of actors in the public transport sector. In this paper we question this assumption and therefore we look at the role of institutions in public bus transport. Based on a series of interviews with stakeholders in the Dutch public transport sector we argue that various regulative, normative, and cognitive institutions discourage the use of zero-emission buses in public transport. We conclude with several suggestions for institutional innovation to increase the chances for these buses.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.


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