A returned Labor Government will buy 90 electric buses in its next term and build a new bus depot on the northside as part of transitioning the ACT fleet to a zero-emissions operation.
ACT Labor’s spokesperson for Transport Chris Steel says the $114 million plan will create up to 500 new jobs and take real action on climate change.
The new northside depot will be a zero-emissions facility, while the new Woden Depot, due to open early next year, will be upgraded to cater for electric buses.
Mr Steel said that a Labor Government would not buy any new diesel buses from 2025, and the ACT would have a fully zero-emissions fleet by 2040.
He said $30 million had been set aside for the electric buses, $66 million for construction of the new depot, $13 million to upgrade the new Woden depot and $5 million to recruit new drivers and mechanics.
If re-elected Labor would procure the electric buses early next year.
“The first 90 electric buses will replace ageing diesel and CNG [compressed natural gas] fossil fuel buses and help grow the Transport Canberra fleet,” he said.
“To support these vehicles, a re-elected Labor Government will build a fully electric fourth bus depot that will cater for up to 150 zero-emission buses.”
Mr Steel said the new depot would be able to expand to eventually hold up to 240 electric buses.
He said that to house the growing zero-emissions fleet, Labor would first fit out the Woden Depot with charging infrastructure and workshop functionality so it could charge 50 electric buses.
Labor would also lease 34 diesel buses to replace the disability non-compliant Renault buses that need to be phased out by 2022, before transitioning to electric buses.
Mr Steel said 64 additional bus drivers would be recruited from 2024 to support the running of the expanded bus fleet, as well as five additional mechanics.
“In this election, only Labor is delivering a plan to transition the ACT’s public buses to zero emissions that has factored in the infrastructure and skills required to support a fleet of electric buses,” Mr Steel said.
”Now more than ever we need a government that has a proven plan to take action on climate change and ensure a better future for our city. We are doing this because it’s the right thing to do.”
Electric buses would also mean cleaner air, with diesel fumes and their dangerous particulates no longer being emitted into the atmosphere.
The ACT has been trialling the Chinese Yutong Electric E12 bus since November 2019, and Mr Steel said it had been very successful but Labor planned to test the market, with a range of new players emerging.
The trial had shown that electric buses could service 78 per cent of Canberra routes.
A zero-emissions steering group has been working on the transition plan, including the mix of technologies required, the number of electric buses to be acquired in the short term with the infrastructure already available in the ACT, as well as the infrastructure required to support an entire fleet.
Mr Steel said hydrogen buses could still be part of the zero-emissions mix long term.
There was already funding in last year’s budget for 84 new buses.