Reijo Mäkinen: “Reducing public trans­port emissions is important now”

Interview 24.02.2019

Reijo Mäkinen, project manager at the Helsinki Regional Transport Authority (HSL), promotes low-emission public transport. Mäkinen is in charge of the Bio100 project, which is helping HSL transition to using fully waste and residue-based biofuels.

There are about 1 400 buses operating under HSL. The buses produce carbon dioxide emissions as well as local particulate and nitrogen oxide emissions, which worsen the air quality of Helsinki’s city centre in particular. However, HSL has set itself ambitious emission reduction targets. The goal is to cut 90 per cent of all emissions by 2025 compared to 2010 levels.

“Our goal in the Bio100 project is to transition 100 per cent to biofuels by 2020. The project is an important part of a larger goal for us, as HSL has invested in reducing emissions for a long time now. The ePeli electric bus project is also underway, which together with the Bio100 project will ensure that we achieve the goal. Reducing public transport emissions is important now that climate change is advancing”, says Project Manager Reijo Mäkinen from HSL.

Also involved in the Bio100 project is the Helsinki City Construction Services, Stara, whose commercial vehicles, heavy equipment and trucks should be running fully on biofuels by 2020. Neste and Teboil are some of the fuel companies involved. Mäkinen believes there is currently a favourable atmosphere for reducing transport emissions.

“Commercial vehicles and heavy equipment owned by the cities of Vantaa and Espoo have also joined the project while it has been underway. Impact increases as more actors get into biofuels.”  

Reducing emissions is nothing new for HSL

HSL still has a long way to go before getting its buses to run entirely on biofuels. Mäkinen is hopeful, however, as HSL has decided to increase its funding for an environmental bonus that buys emission reductions from transport operators for existing contracts. The easiest way for transport operators to reduce emissions is to switch from fossil fuels to biofuels.

“In the big picture, things have clearly progressed as people’s awareness has increased and the goals have become more ambitious. Because the direction is so good, in the future we can make more big decisions to reduce emissions.”  

The Bio100 project also benefits from the fact that statistics on HSL’s bus emissions have been compiled for a long time in cooperation with the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. The measurements give precise data on what emissions the buses produce. Environmental criteria have been taken into account in the competitive tendering of bus transport since the late 1990s.

“I’m pleased that in the late stages of my career I can focus on the things that inspire me most. I’ve been interested in vehicle technologies and environmental issues since I was a student.”