Amsterdam's Canal Boats Are Going Electric Too

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Sightseeing boats will soon be emission free, as will the city's bus fleet.

By 2025, all buses in Amsterdam will be electric. This is all well and good, but anyone who has ever been to this fabulous city knows that there are a whole bunch of diesel-chugging boats to contend with, too.

Fortunately, progress is happening on that front, as well.

According to a report over at the BBC, the city's fleet of 150 sightseeing boats are all going to be going electric by 2025. And that means fleet operators are gradually undertaking the not insignificant task of switching out powertrains—at a cost of about $189,000 to $287,000, and taking about 3 months per boat. Fortunately, boat operators should see a return on their investment within about 12 years. But I'm hoping that the city government and/or financial markets are providing some form of reasonable financing to help smooth what is undoubtedly a difficult transition in terms of business cash flow.

This isn't the first time we've heard about Dutch canals going electric—and it certainly beats using them as Smart Car dumping grounds—so I'll be watching with interest to see how this transition rolls out.

If we really do end up with all electric buses and canal boats, in a city that's already famed for its bicycle culture, then it could serve as a beacon for what sustainable transportation policy looks like in a dense urban environment.

It's true that not all cities have canals to work with, but that's not really the point. What Amsterdam is doing is demonstrating that a sensible, coordinated mobility strategy should start with a city's assets and then work with those assets toward attaining zero emissions.