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Transportation in Kazakhstan

Clean public transportation: A greener future for Kazakhstan

bus stopping to let on peopleAir pollution is a serious problem in Almaty. Because it sits at the foot of mountains, and prevailing wind directions, pollutants are trapped in the city.

Since Almaty does not have a high concentration of industry, it is estimated that 85 percent of air pollutants or 160, 000 tons per year are from motor vehicle emissions.

You may not know, but the city of Almaty has its own green municipal bus fleet, with 200 buses that run on pollution-free clean natural gas (CNG).

The fleet serves 10 urban routes, and the city wants to purchase another fleet of CNG buses later this year. Almaty also has two gas compressor refill stations.

Plans are also in the works to have all of the city’s taxis converted too. To date, only 50 vehicles in the city’s fleet use compressed gas, but the city wants to buy a fleet of 200 CNG taxis in the near future.

But now that the city owns a fleet of CNG vehicles, with more on the way, there’s a need for specialist skills to maintain these types of vehicles, and work with refill stations too.

Busy street in Almaty, office buildings in the background, road surrounded by trees

We also worked with instructors at the Almaty State College of New Technologies to develop a dedicated training programme for municipal and private operators of the new vehicles.

Our collaboration included head of the Dutch firm RAP Clean Vehicle Technology and leading expert in the field of CNG vehicles, Mr. Gert-Jan Rap; specialists from Intergaz Central Asia JSC and KazTransNaz-Onimderi GCRS; instructors from Cummins, the manufacturer of CNG engines; and representatives of the Almaty Department of Metrology and Standardization and the First Municipal Bus Fleet.

People getting on a bus, Almaty

UNDP and GEF are also assisting the College to develop a new technical specialty programme in natural gas–powered motor vehicles.

We believe, as do our partners in the municipality, that the success of the CNG pilot programme will be one of the most important determining factors in the improvement of air quality and reduction of pollution for the city.

The municipality decided to convert the buses to reduce harmful emissions from vehicles – which has unfortunately been on the rise, affecting air quality in the city.

We hope that Almaty will be a good example for the rest of Kazakhstan’s cities, where the number of vehicles on the road has continued to increase over recent years.

It is possible to convert transport to CNG in any city with access to natural gas. While costs are necessarily involved, other nations have proven that conversion can be readily accomplished, often with the help of federal tax incentives, as in Canada and the US.

Another bonus to converting to CNG is that, as a fuel, it is cheaper than those currently in widespread use. Comparing prices in the regions of Kazakhstan, it turns out that methane is roughly half the price of other types of fuel.

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