21 December 2020

Government powers up in bid for 90 electric buses

| Ian Bushnell
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Yutong Electric E12

The Chinese Yutong Electric E12 bus was trialled successfully this year. Photo: File.

The ACT is moving a step closer to a zero-emissions transport fleet with the government seeking private sector providers for 90 battery-electric buses, as well as associated operating requirements such as charging infrastructure, maintenance and energy supply.

In a market sounding released today, the government wants to hear from all parts of industry as part of the future procurement of the 90 battery-electric buses in mid-2021.

Minister for Transport and City Services Chris Steel said the first of the 90 buses were expected to be on the road in the 2021-22 financial year with the final vehicles to be delivered no later than 2024.

Interested parties can now register through the Tenders ACT or Transport Canberra websites so they can keep informed and involved in the upcoming industry briefing process and formal market soundings.

“This process is not just about delivering 90 battery-electric buses. We are seeking innovative solutions to how we house and support, charge and maintain the fleet, as well as how we can partner with energy providers that will make the transition successful in the ACT,” Mr Steel said.

“Transport is the ACT’s largest source of emissions and we are getting on with our plan of replacing every diesel and compressed natural gas bus in Transport Canberra’s fleet with modern, zero-emission buses.”

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The market sounding says Transport Canberra is looking for innovative solutions that respond to the infrastructure, power, training and technology opportunities of a zero-emission fleet, and can deliver on the objectives of a sustainable, compact and efficient city.

Buses may be housed and charged in a mixture of either existing depots, off-site locations or at the new Woden bus depot.

The market sounding follows the release in September of Transport Canberra’s Zero Emissions Transition Plan.

The ACT successfully trialled the Chinese Yutong Electric E12 bus for a year from November 2019, but the government wants to test the market with a range of new players emerging.

Mr Steel said the government wants to hear from all sectors of industry that would like to be involved in delivering the zero-emissions transition – from bus manufacturers, energy providers, electric bus charging station companies to the broader construction industry.

“The market sounding is the next step in achieving our target of a zero-emission public transport system by 2040 or earlier, and providing clean, quiet and reliable bus services across Transport Canberra’s Network,” he said.

It will involve a series of industry forums, interactive discussions and an information-sharing platform to allow Transport Canberra to develop procurement documentation that encourages innovation and responds to industry capability. The process will conclude with interviews with relevant stakeholders.

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The government also announced that a tender will be released in early 2021 to lease 34 replacement buses in order to retire the remaining orange Renault PR100 series buses that pre-date emissions standards and do not comply with the Disability Discrimination Act.

The tender to replace the 34 buses will seek interest from providers of both battery-electric and diesel buses that meet Transport Canberra’s short-term operational requirements and the objectives of the transition plan.

“The old orange Renault buses have served Canberra well, but their black diesel fumes and outdated and inaccessible design will not be missed,” Mr Steel said.

“When the 34 replacement buses enter service in the second half of 2021, every bus in the Transport Canberra fleet will comply with Disability Discrimination Act standards and be wheelchair and pram accessible.”

The move to zero emissions public transport is part of the Parliamentary Agreement between Labor and the ACT Greens and acquiring 90 electric buses is an ACT Labor election commitment.

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Capital Retro5:11 pm 23 Dec 20

There are less people using the buses and that trend will continue. Instead of testing the electric bus market “with new players emerging” the government should be looking at alternative ways to meet the diminishing demand for buses. Have they scoped outsourcing the least used routes to ride share operators using EVs exclusively, for example?

As a ratepayer I am getting tired of my money being used to subsidize these big buses and their dysfunctional operation to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

The government could then still have their virtue signaling but in a more cost effective way. After all, their first obligation is to the ratepayers, not the climate alarmists in the UN.

“Harry Vallianos Um, we know this; lots of people know this, but you just don’t get it do you. I repeat, how can we tell them what to do without setting an example?” Nailed it. In the same way we set the example with free trade.

Capital Retro11:32 am 23 Dec 20

You mean the “free trade” deal we have with China?

“Free trade”, that’s a good one. Well done.

Electric bus is no good for anyone who had their bus route and their nearest bus stop taken away.

Sort of like Yes Ministers hospital without patients.

Capital Retro10:38 am 22 Dec 20

“….black diesel fumes…”?

I’ve never seen these coming from an ACTION bus. The Minister must have go a whiff of something else.

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