25 January 2023

All aboard! First permanent electric bus rolls into Canberra (and many more are on the way)

| James Coleman
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Electric bus

Transport Canberra’s first electric bus started service today (25 January). Photo: ACT Government.

The ACT’s first permanent electric bus hit the road for the first time this morning. Eleven more will be joining the fleet in the coming weeks.

The Chinese-made Yutong E12 battery-powered bus, wearing colourful graphics espousing its ‘zero-emission’ credentials, commenced service for the first time on 25 January, with a regular route from Woden followed by a tour around Civic for members of the media.

Three more in Canberra are still being equipped with bike racks and MyWay ticket machines. The remainder are being fitted out in Sydney by Yutong and VDI coach-builders.

Minister for Transport Chris Steel described BUS 800 as an “important milestone” in the ACT Government’s journey towards moving the city’s public transport system away from fossil fuels by 2040.

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“We’ve been ambitious with our investment program to deliver this technology, with 11 more battery electric buses to begin operations across Canberra in the coming weeks and procurement to purchase 90 more underway,” he said.

“This is just the start of our program that will see Canberra eventually move to a completely zero emissions public transport network that is powered by 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2040 or earlier.”

But the road hasn’t been easy.

Two electric buses were trialled in Tuggeranong in 2020, but despite the government labelling it a success, bus drivers have since told Region the buses weren’t without their faults. The supply of power to the depot meant only one could be charged at a time, and lengthy charge times prevented them from being used as efficiently as the current diesel- and gas-powered buses.

In February 2022, Mr Steel announced a combination of 12 fully electric buses and 26 low-emission diesel buses would take the place of the remaining 33 old orange Renaults by 31 December 2022 – the date the Renaults would fall foul of updated national disability accessibility standards. The new models are leased to give the government time to sort out procurement for a further 90 electric buses, as promised in the last election.

The initial batch of electric buses are three weeks late and the low-emission diesel buses have also been delayed until sometime in the first half of this year due to “supply chain issues experienced by Scania”.

“The delay in the delivery of the 26 low-emissions diesel buses means that a small number of old non-accessible diesel Renault buses can’t be completely phased out of our fleet immediately,” Mr Steel said.

“Unfortunately, they will continue to be used on the bus network for a short period to maintain services for the community until the replacement buses arrive.”

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Transport Canberra’s executive branch manager of bus operations Ian McGlinn said the new electric buses will be based in the Tuggeranong depot and have an estimated driving range of 400 km – comparable to the current diesel buses.

“Charge time will vary depending on how much range is left and how many are plugged in,” he said.

“We’ll also be charging them at every opportunity we can to keep their charge up.”

Yutong supplies the chargers, and Transport Canberra is still in talks with EvoEnergy over the power supply to the new Woden depot, which is expected to be completed in late 2024.

“There will be just over 100 vehicles there, with ample provisions for electrification,” Mr McGlinn said.

There’s still no timeline for the remaining 90 buses, but unlike the initial 12, these will be purchased once the procurement process is finished.

“Obviously, with any active procurement, there’s a lot of restrictions around that, but that second tranche and first purchase of battery electric buses is very exciting,” Transport Canberra’s executive branch manager of planning and delivery Sarah Taylor-Dayus said.

Ms Taylor-Dayus said a five-year lease was chosen for these first 12 because it allows more flexibility at the end of the term for either buying the bus or opting for another lease of a more updated vehicle.

“Battery-electric vehicles are still very new technology, so we expect to see it advance further. As batteries get more sleek and lighter, we might like to go to market again to get those more updated models.”

The endgame remains to phase out all diesel and gas buses by 2040, with hydrogen not off the cards either.

“If that’s an option for us, we’ll do it at the right time,” Ms Taylor-Dayus said.

Passengers shouldn’t expect too much of a different public-transport experience in the electric buses, save for a quieter and smoother ride, not to mention wall-mounted phone charging ports for each seat.

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Capital Retro10:26 am 27 Jan 23

At the risk of being called a cherry picker, here is the evidence.


Now, can you give me a link to the EIS?

And locally manufactured bio-diesel is available. The ACT Government has used it before.

Is the risk worth it?: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5r-yN8SugWM

Can’t happen soon enough. What are the potential diesel cost savings and relative ROI? Can bus depots use their sprawling roof space for energy production?

Capital Retro12:09 pm 27 Jan 23

The depot at Tuggeranong is already covered with solar panels which is next to useless for charging buses that operate mainly in daylight hours.

Its just the wind isnt blowing…..maybe if it was blowing and it was sunny and…..oh hang on…pick up that bit of ozone player please…..

As the loony lefties pedal by on their pushies, quoting Marx & Mao….saying “socialism works, ist just never been done right”….yep…..

And the green dream eh?

Interstingly, “the green dream” is the nickname of brightly coloured liquid used by vets to euthanize domestic animals…..

Capital Retro4:39 pm 26 Jan 23

Glad I didn’t buy a home unit opposite the Tuggers bus depot because all occupants there will have to evacuate when there is a fire. I’d like to see the EIS that was lodged to allow this to happen.

Any evidence? Why do you believe remaining dependent upon imported diesel is better in the long run?

Capital Retro9:59 am 27 Jan 23

At the risk of being called a “cherry picker”, here is the evidence.


Now, can you give me a link to the EIS?

And locally manufactured bio-diesel is available. The ACT Government has used it before.


Yes, here is the detailed research on the issue from the CR Science Department.

And why would they need an EIS? You do know what an EIS is actually required for right?


Capital Retro2:07 pm 27 Jan 23

The “detailed research” about the Paris bus fire at that link was inconclusive spin. All the other buses were taken out of service as a result though.

The solar panel project at the Tuggers bus depot is an industrial venture. It may be called a solar “farm” but that doesn’t mean it is in a paddock. There are hundreds of people living just across the road – were they consulted? That is why an IES is needed.

Strange how the commissioning of the bus depot solar project coincided with the completion and sale of the huge apartment project across the road.

Hello? Tuggeranong Community Council people know what’s going on?

Capital Retro,
You still haven’t explained why you think an EIS is needed under the planning system. Here, this should help clear up your confusion.


And DAs are put out for comment, so everyone had the opportunity to have their say.

Why is this permanent? Aren’t we leasing them so we can pack them up (or whats left of them) when they dont work/cause fires/breakdown?

Where did you get all this from? Any evidence?

Hopefully Minister Steel and the Barr government can see the bigger benefits of sustainability by supporting Australian made? Are they still ordering the locally made Custom Dennings models or considering other locally made EV buses such as Bus Tech? Supporting a local EV bus manufacturing operation is sound for economic, circular economy and long term sustainability. Consider working in with other states and keep jobs and industry in Australia instead of continuing with a Government revenue focus of growth by land and construction development fuelled by increasing migration and housing. A smaller population with more industry will take the stress off housing supplies and provide good long term jobs creating more career choices, rather than the now limited APS, eduction, retail, construction and service industry focus. There was more diversity and innovation in careers in the country when we use to design and make things locally.

ChrisinTurner1:14 pm 26 Jan 23

Electric buses were already available when the Greens decided to go for the slower tram alternative.

Capital Retro4:34 pm 26 Jan 23

Tram salespeople are more convincing than bus salespeople.

Make sure you sit near the doors so can you can make a quick getaway when the fire eventually breaks out

Electric buses?? Far too sensible an idea for our labor/greens. How about light rail instead?
Much better idea to cancel all the buses in adjacent suburbs (like they did in all the suburbs along the first section of the light rail) and force most commuters to catch two services to the city instead of one. Then they could add four or five sets of traffic lights along Adelaide Ave (as they did along Nthbourne/Flemington). Finally, cancel any “Rapid” bus services from Tugg to the City (like they did with the Red Rapid through to Russel and Barton). Only costs $2 billion.
Hang on………. Maybe even our politicians will see electric buses as a sensible alternative?… Nah

“Low emission diesel” seems a bit like clean coal. Honestly, why don’t they just say “because we took a conservative approach to procurement, most of the supply had been taken by other jurisdictions”?

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