The fast-moving technology of electric vehicle batteries has prompted the ACT government to assess different leasing and operational models for its forthcoming 90 electric buses due to be phased in over the next three years.
At least 34 of the current diesel-powered Renault buses are reaching the end of their in-service life and are due for short-term replacement.
Buying an electric vehicle locks the purchaser into the current battery composition.
Although Tesla car owners can trade or sell after a few years and move on to the next generation product, when the purchase is public transport with a raft of different requirements, it's a much more complex issue.
For Canberra's ACTION bus fleet, which this year will begin to become electrified, there's hundreds of thousands of public dollars at stake, with each vehicle having a potential in-service life of not years, but decades.
So for the ACT government, choosing the point in time when to commit to the next technology, and have the flexibility to upgrade when the tech changes, creates challenges not experienced before in public transport.
It's for this reason that the deputy director-general of Transport Canberra, Ben McHugh, believes that the traditional ownership and operating model, which has operated since self-government, is no longer applicable.
"We're open to leasing outcomes compared to our previous 'own, operate, maintain' model," Mr McHugh said.
"So we're open to the market approaching us with what might be different purchase/provider models which would allow us to adopt new [vehicle battery] technology at the right time and not be stuck with a particular outcome for what would normally be a 20-year-plus life of a bus."
A 2018 trial of two electric buses on the ACT government fleet was beset with issues. The Chinese-made electric buses were heavy, ponderous to manoeuvre, had a ridiculously short driving range, and the ACTION drivers hated them.
But those lessons were well-learned, and the ACT government will also leverage some of the know-how from neighbouring NSW, where Transport for NSW is also committed to electrifying its entire 8000-strong diesel bus fleet by 2030.
Although the process is still in its "sounding the market" stage, Chinese bus maker Yutong - the world's largest bus manufacturer, with models now operating in NSW - appears a likely front-runner for silent running on Canberra's bus routes.
Yutong has electric buses operating all over the world including the UK, Denmark, Chile, France and Bulgaria, with its premium ICe12 model delivering 350kms of driving range. The company is also investing heavily in autonomy, with local testing of driverless buses surpassing 10,000kms.
Hydrogen-powered buses are also on the more distant horizon for the ACTION bus fleet.
The ACT government is poised to open its first hydrogen refuelling station in Fyshwick, and has signed the largest lease deal in the country of hydrogen fuel-cell powered passenger cars, with 20 Hyundai Nexo vehicles joining the government fleet in the next few months.
With the new Woden bus depot the first to be configured with overhead gantries and recharging stations for the electric bus fleet, a key part of the investigation for the fleet's electrification was whether the existing network would cope with the recharging load.
"The planning for Woden [depot] was started a couple of years ago and we had a review of the network at that point in time," Mr McHugh said.
"We've planned around what the likely capacity will be at Woden in the short term and that's where we've come up with the nominal amount of buses that we're confident can be charged with the existing [power] infrastructure."