The $23 million rollout of the ACT’s electric bus fleet has – at long last – commenced, with the first electric buses now being charged up ahead of their introduction to service next year.
Transport Minister Chris Steel said he was delighted to have these join the fleet where they would deliver cleaner, quieter and more comfortable transport services.
“The ACT Government is also delivering on our promise to buy a further 90 battery-electric buses as part of our Zero Emissions Transition Plan,” he said.
“The future of our transport system is mass-transit light rail linking our city and town centres integrated with electric buses running to the suburbs, all running on 100 per cent renewable energy.”
The first of the Yutong battery electric buses being leased by the Government has now arrived in the ACT where it is being made “passenger-ready”.
A spokesperson for Transport Canberra said the other 12 buses had arrived in the country.
“The buses are required to undergo a commissioning and registration process that includes the installation of hardware systems for ticketing, CCTV and communications, and the application of decals that distinguish them as zero-emission buses,” they said in a statement.
An additional 90 electric buses are currently being procured by the Government. They are expected to be delivered in the next three years.
These first Chinese-made Yutong E12 buses will be charged at the existing Tuggeranong depot. The next will be charged in Belconnen and the new Woden depot upon completion.
Construction on the second stage of the depot is underway.
Each of the buses will be able to travel between 300 and 350 kilometres a day and will be charged overnight for between three-and-a-half and four hours.
The Government earlier this year announced it would procure eight electric buses from Yutong VDI and four from Custom Denning.
But instead, Yutong VDI is now providing 12 electric buses and negotiations are ongoing with Custom Denning.
It follows months of pressure on the Government from the Opposition to ensure this fleet was ready this year as had been promised.
Canberra Liberals’ spokesperson for public transport Mark Parton had even questioned whether a reduced service timetable announced for next year was due to the failure of these buses to arrive.
But this was rubbished by the Government which has instead attributed cuts to the timetable to construction-related delays.
Major works are not only underway in Woden for the new bus depot but in the city with the raising of London Circuit.
In turn, public advocates have argued that excuse does not stack up.