Air quality issue

Umeå is a city in north-east Sweden. The short-term air quality standard for NO2, in the years 2003-2014, in the centre of Umeå was above the Swedish air quality standard for this pollutant, which is more stringent than the EU air quality standard. 

Example of measures taken

In 2011, Umeå adopted an integrated sustainable urban mobility plan. In 2015, it put in place an air quality plan with the specific aim of reducing levels of NO2. Measures included the introduction of electric buses and a charging system. Currently, 33 electric buses operate on the city’s two main bus lines. By using fully electric buses on these routes, NO2 emissions have been significantly reduced. 

Costs and trade-offs

The electric buses and the charging system cost €21 million. Focusing on the benefits that this transition to electric buses would have for the health of local residents helped to build support for the measure.

Who was involved?

The measure was developed and implemented by the city municipality, together with the Swedish transport administration. The air quality plan was developed in open dialogue with citizens and stakeholders.

Lessons learnt

  • Depending on how the electricity used by the buses is generated, they can have much lower emissions of both air pollutants and greenhouse gases compared to buses with internal combustion engines.
  • In addition, noise levels are lower, especially at low speeds and at stops.
  • These benefits should be considered when assessing costs and benefits in the initial planning phases of such projects. 

Umeå, Sweden
Type of measure
Accelerating technology uptake, - introduction of electric buses
Target pollutants
Nitrogen dioxide (NO2)
Particulate matter (excluding non-exhaust emissions)
Pollution source targeted
Description of the project (in Swedish)


Geographic coverage


Filed under:
Filed under: electric vehicles
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