ACT government eyes electric buses for 2018-19 bulk-buy

ACT government eyes electric buses for 2018-19 bulk-buy

Canberra's new electric buses may be edging out their hybrid competitor as the ACT looks to buy another 40 buses next financial year.

The ACT government just signed a contract for 40 new Scania Euro VI diesel buses, bringing the bus fleet to a total of 474 and steadily phasing out the old orange ACTION buses.

The ACT Government and Transport Canberra have trialed electric and hybrid buses.

The ACT Government and Transport Canberra have trialed electric and hybrid buses.Credit:Rohan Thomson

But Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris said the next batch they buy may not run on fossil fuels.

"The government is also looking closely at using emerging electric bus technologies for the provision of the next 40 buses in 2018-19," Ms Fitzharris said.

One of the ACT's electric buses.

One of the ACT's electric buses. Credit:Rohan Thomson

"We have been trialling the use of two electric buses and one hybrid bus since August last year to enable the government to assess the viability of using these new types of buses in the network.

"The ACT government is committed to looking at new and innovative ways to improve our public transport system to manage Canberra's growth, reduce congestion and protect our liveability."

The electric and hybrid diesel/electric bus trial began last August, after being pushed back due to the first contract falling through.

A spokeswoman for Ms Fitzharris said the government was "not yet in a position" to compare the performance of the electric buses to that of the rest of the fleet.

However they appear to be planning for an electrification of the fleet with upgrades to the territory's transport infrastructure.

"The new bus depot at Woden for example will be electric bus capable from when it opens in 2019," the spokeswoman said.

Between August 1 and January 1, the electric bus has recorded 643 trips, used 11934kwH of electricity and had one breakdown.

The hybrid bus has been on 487 trips, used 3966 litres of diesel (the control buses used about four times as much diesel) and broken down twice.

Neither type of bus has run out of power while on the road, however the electric bus has had six days of unscheduled maintenance while the hybrid bus has had nine days of unscheduled maintenance.

"With any new technology, there will always be challenges, operational and technical. We have a dedicated team supporting this service," the spokeswoman said.

"We are also committed to investigating new bus technologies with the aim of lowering greenhouse emissions and improving public transport in Canberra."

Katie Burgess is a reporter for the Canberra Times, covering ACT politics.

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