A new Chinese-built electric bus has joined the Transport Canberra fleet as part of a 12-month trial that will assist the ACT’s transition to zero-emissions public transport.
Built by the world’s largest bus maker, Yutong, the Electric E12 bus will be based at the Tuggeranong depot for charging, and from next month will operate all over Canberra.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr and Transport Minister Chris Steel, along with Yutong representatives, unveiled the bus at the Old Bus Depot Markets in Kingston on Monday.
It is estimated that the bus will have a range of 400 kilometres but Mr Steel said it might need a recharge in the middle of the day between shifts. A full recharge takes six hours or overnight at Tuggeranong.
There are 120,000 E12 buses operating across the world in 40 countries and hundreds of cities.
Mr Barr said it was important that the ACT undertook trials such as this to ascertain the best vehicles for local conditions.
Information from the trial would help Transport Canberra make long-term procurement decisions for the eventual phasing out of diesel buses as the ACT moves to achieve zero net emissions for the ACT by 2045.
He said it would not happen overnight but the ACT would take a “sensible, affordable transition path”.
Mr Steel said the Government had started work on its Zero-Emission Transition Plan, which would provide a roadmap to make the switch from diesel buses to a zero-emissions fleet.
The previous trial of an electric bus ended in 2018 and reliability had been an issue but Mr Steel said the Yutong was a more modern electric vehicle that had a good track record around the world.
“We know that this vehicle, even in NSW trials, has been very successful and we’re hoping that as we work through our zero-emissions plan, we can learn from the operations of this new modern electric vehicle,” he said.
“This electric bus will provide us with valuable operation information to guide the preparation of a Transition Plan for zero-emission bus fleet and prepare for the purchase of more electric buses at scale.”
Mr Steel said that the ACT would be buying 84 new buses over the next few years, some of which may be zero, low-emission or hybrid vehicles, but by 2025 diesel would not be an option.
He hoped that the new Woden depot would be online by 2021 and be available to support a larger fleet of electric vehicles.
The $122,000 Yutong bus deal comes with options to extend the lease or buy at the end of the 12-month trial.
The bus can carry 57 people, but it can be configured to meet Transport Canberra’s operational requirements, including increased passenger capacity.
Mr Steel said the cost of electric buses was falling and that on a whole-of-life economic basis were cheaper.
On 1 October, the ACT became the first major jurisdiction outside Europe to transition from a fossil fuel-based energy supply to 100 per cent renewable electricity.