Imagine being able to sit outside on the high street without being bombarded by noise, dirt and pollution from buses.
Electric buses are an exhaust free, quiet and efficient option to replace current diesel and compressed natural gas (CNG) buses. They are cheaper to run than conventional buses and have the potential for zero carbon emissions.
While cities around the world including Canberra, are transitioning their bus fleets to electricity power, our government is relying on Transit Systems, a private operator, to trial just four electric buses in Sydney in 2019. It’s not enough and we need to tell the government we want less noise, less pollution and less emissions.
What are the benefits of electric buses?
Potential for zero emissions
Electric buses charged from the normal electricity grid produce less greenhouse emissions than diesel-hybrid, natural gas and diesel vehicles but do contribute emissions at the point of electricity generation. Installing solar power at charging stations to power electric buses off the grid could make them zero emission.
No exhaust fumes
Electric vehicles don’t directly emit pollutants such as carbon monoxide or soot so they have less impact on air quality.
Less noise and vibration
Electric vehicles don’t use internal combustion engines making them quieter to run.
Electric engines are simpler than internal combustion engines which reduces maintenance time and costs. This means they spend more time on the road and less time at the depot.
What type of fuel do buses use in NSW now?
Of the combined figure of 2,172 buses:
- 561 (25.83%) are Euro 3 compliant (compressed natural gas or Euro 3 diesel)
- 742 (34.16%) are Euro 5 diesel or Euro 4 CNG
- 450 (20.72%) are Enhanced Environmentally-friendly Vehicles (EEV).
- The B-Line double-deckers have a Euro 5 engine with low exhaust emissions.
Are electric buses more expensive?
While electric buses are more expensive to purchase initially, they are cheaper to run, fuel and maintain. This means that over the whole life time of the bus, electric buses can be cheaper to run than a conventional bus.
The initial cost of electric buses is expected to become cheaper as batteries – which make up around 25% of the cost of the bus – become cheaper.
Electric double-decker buses introduced this year in Wellington NZ are to be able to travel up to 150km on a single charge costing as little as $22.
Are electric buses being used overseas?
Globally, municipal bus fleets are mainly powered by diesel and CNG. Only around 13% of the total global municipal bus fleet was electric in 2017.
The exception to this trend is China which is home to around 99% of the world’s 385,000 electric buses.
This trend is driven by several factors including supportive subsidies; municipal air quality targets; and the objective of reducing dependence on imported oil. The city of Shenzhen has stopped purchasing new internal combustion engine municipal buses and is now only buying electric. As a result, Shenzhen has reduced air pollution levels by around 50% in the last ten years.
Are they being used in Australia?
The ACT government trialled the use of electric and hybrid buses ahead of its purchase of 40 electric buses in February 2018.
Transit Systems, the new private operator in charge of buses in the inner west, has already announced a trail of four electric buses in 2019. There are also trials underway in Ipswich and an operating fleet of electric buses at Sydney Airport.