ACT Labor have today promised to purchase 90 electric battery buses in the next parliamentary term if they win October’s election.
Today’s announcement is part of their push toward transitioning Canberra’s public bus fleet to zero emissions by 2037 – shaving three years of their existing target date.
ACT Labor’s spokesperson for Transport Chris Steel said their plan involves creating “up to” 500 jobs, building a new zero-emissions bus depot in Canberra’s North and electric bus infrastructure at the new Woden Depot to support the battery electric bus fleet.
“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 with the flexibility to expand.”
“In the interim, to house the growing zero emissions fleet, we will invest $13 million to build the new Woden Depot with charging infrastructure and workshop functionality to initially charge 50 zero emission buses.”
The first 90 battery electric buses will replace ageing diesel and CNG fossil fuel buses, which ACT Labor say will reduce Transport Canberra’s fleet emissions by over 17% in the next term alone.
ACT Labor have previously promised to purchase no more diesel buses from 2025.
The acquisition of the ACT’s new electric buses will be timed with plans for electric charging infrastructure and new depots.
The policy will see 64 additional bus drivers recruited from 2024 to support running the expanded bus fleet, while 5 additional mechanics will also be hired.
ACT Greens leader Shane Rattenbury welcomed the announcement but said ACT Labor’s commitment “can and should be more ambitious”.
“The ACT Labor policy states that diesel buses can be purchased before 2025 … The Greens’ clear position is that the ACT should not buy any more diesel buses from today, and that we should transition the entire bus fleet to zero emissions vehicles by 2035 at the latest,” he said.
“These buses will have a lifespan of 15-20 years. Buying diesel buses now means we won’t have a zero-emissions bus fleet in Canberra for at least another two decades.”
Mr Rattenbury said if suitable electric buses weren’t available in the interim “shorter term leases of second-hand buses should be looked at until zero emission models are available”.
In February this year a fully electric Chinese-built Yutong Electric E12 bus took to Canberra roads as part of a 12-month trial with the idea to test the bus in local conditions to determine its suitability ahead of future procurement decisions.
This bus was delivered in November 2019 on a one-year lease at a cost of $122,000 with an option to either extend the lease or buy.
A previous ACT electric bus trial in 2017 achieved mixed results, with the vehicles missing a third of their services due to reliability issues.