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Renewable Powered Electric Buses

Jun 24, 2022 | News, Parliament

My adjournment is for the Minister for Public Transport. The New South Wales government announced yesterday that they will be investing $218.9 million over the next seven years to support the bus fleet to move to electric. They have also committed to setting aside a further $2 billion to begin the transition. This is so that all New South Wales public buses are renewable power electric buses by 2030. The ACT has the same ambition for 2040. Transitioning the bus fleet to electric is not only critical to reaching net zero but also reduces noise on our streets, improves air quality and provides commuters with a better ride.

A $20 million zero-emission bus trial in Victoria is expected to begin in 2024. The trial will include 27 electric buses that will be operating on nine routes across the northern suburbs. My understanding is that this is in preparation for all buses bought from 2025 onwards to be electric. But we need to move faster. We need to have charging infrastructure in place now, and we need to start building multiple electric bus depots tomorrow. We know that buses last roughly 20 years. This means that diesel buses we buy today will not be replaced by electric buses until 2042. With a looming climate crisis that is too late.

Transport is the third-highest emitting sector of Australia’s economy. There is a serious need to accelerate Victoria’s shift to electric buses and increase public transport patronage. Post pandemic we have struggled to get people out of their cars and back onto trains, buses and trams. This all has to be addressed if we are going to mitigate our transport emissions. Minister, will the government match New South Wales’s commitment to convert all public buses to renewable powered electric buses by 2030?

Electric Buses

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Answered: 29 July 2022

I thank the Member for Eastern Metropolitan Region for his question.

The Andrews Labor Government is proud of its legislated commitment to net zero emissions by 2050 and its decision to purchase only zero-emissions buses from 2025 in support of this goal.  The zero-emissions bus trial is just one element of the Government’s Zero Emissions Vehicle Roadmap which is driving a transformation of road transport.

However, I am aware of the considerable challenges involved in the transition of Victoria’s more than 4,000 buses to zero emissions technology.  These include the physical constraints of installing charging infrastructure in already crowded bus depots, and the need for upgrades to the electricity network so that enough power can be made available to charge buses. Such upgrades can take substantial time to complete.

In fact, the challenges of such a transition have recently led New South Wales to significantly revise their commitment.  The target for converting all New South Wales’s buses to zero emissions has been moved from 2030 to 2047.

In Victoria, there will be seven different trials of zero-emissions buses, with 52 buses in total.  The first bus is scheduled to be on the road in August of this year.  We are not only trialling battery electric buses, but also hydrogen fuel cell buses that may be more suited to longer bus routes. These trials will provide invaluable lessons to inform the broader transition of the Victorian bus fleet.

In parallel with the trials, a further 36 electric buses will be introduced to the network through the new Metropolitan Bus Franchise operated by Kinetic. These buses also begin to enter the fleet this year.

The technological landscape is changing rapidly, and the Victorian Government will continue to explore how to best transition the bus fleet from 2025.


The Hon Ben Carroll MP

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