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Market Disruptions & Uncertainties for Employees in the Public Transportation Sector

This section will examine the potential changes in the job market and the uncertainties arising from the shift toward E-buses.
E-Bus parked in Singapore, Asia waiting for passengers to board.

The advent of E-Buses is expected to bring about uncertainties in the job market for several reasons. Firstly, E-Buses’ growth may reduce traditional bus-related jobs such as mechanics, as E-Buses require less maintenance than conventional diesel-powered buses.

Secondly, the transition to E-Buses may also lead to the creation of new jobs in industries such as charging infrastructure and energy storage. Still, the exact number and nature of these jobs must be precise and may vary depending on the specific implementation of E-Bus programs in different countries.

Additionally, the rapid pace of technological change in the E-Bus sector may also lead to job losses as workers with traditional bus operations and maintenance skills may need help to keep up with the changes and acquire new skills. This could result in workers being left behind and facing significant challenges in finding new employment.

General Motors Case Study

When General Motors (GM) announced its goal to produce only battery-powered vehicles by 2035, it put the future of 50,000 GM workers at risk, as their skills and jobs could become obsolete much sooner than they expected.

As the message was clear, these and other car manufacturers want and are looking for workers to build only zero-emission vehicles in their quest for a greener economy.

This is getting closer and closer, but it means that workers in the industry will have to do something different in their jobs or face the possibility of unemployment. For example, the jobs now devoted to making pistons, injectors, and silencers will be replaced by the assembly of lithium-ion batteries, electric motors, and heavy-duty wiring harnesses.

Many of these components are made overseas. Nonetheless, the US is developing an electric vehicle supply chain to create one million more jobs in the electric vehicle industry. However, the future could be uncertain for factory workers because the green factories of the future will need fewer workers, especially since electric vehicles have 30-40% fewer moving parts than diesel vehicles.

Three E-Bus drivers in front of an E-Bus. E-Bus drivers. Worcester Telegram (2016)

There will be around 100,000 vulnerable people in the U.S. during this transition. Unfortunately, there is little guarantee that car manufacturers will need the same workers in the future of electric vehicles. A United Auto Workers (UAW) report quotes Ford and Volkswagen executives claiming that electric vehicles will reduce labor hours per vehicle by 30%.

“There are just fewer parts, so of course, it stands to reason that there will be less labor,” said Jeff Dokho, research director for the UAW.

On the bright side, these job losses will be offset by jobs created by a greener economy, from manufacturing electric vehicle parts and charging stations to wind and solar power generation. It is also important to mention that not all combustion-related jobs will disappear in the transition. For example, GM excluded heavier buses from its electric vehicle target. And some manufacturers will continue to make gasoline-electric hybrids. Moreover, if car manufacturers are receptive, a significant portion of their employees could be transferred from producing gasoline cars to constructing and manufacturing components for electric vehicles.

Even though car companies are announcing their plans to sell electric vehicles in the upcoming years mostly, experts expect the internal combustion engine to be around for a while. This is because hybrid vehicles still depend on a combustion engine and transmission, while only fully electric cars do not need these conventional components.

Conclusion

In conclusion, while E-Buses offer numerous benefits, they also bring about the potential for job losses, particularly for workers in traditional bus-related industries such as maintenance and operation. It is essential for workers and policymakers to proactively plan for and manage the transition to E-Buses, including through retraining programs and other measures to support workers who may be impacted by the shift to E-Buses.

Later on, we’ll dive into exciting new job opportunities in the public transportation sector!

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Exploring the World of Electric Buses: Advancing Zero-Emission Public Transport

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