On Saturday I had my first brief ride in an electric bus.
The electric bus seemed much quieter than it’s diesel cousins. And no engine vibration while idling. And no fumes of course.— Daniel Bowen (@danielbowen) July 2, 2022
Great to see more electric buses coming into service – hopefully with ongoing investment in route reform and more frequent services.? pic.twitter.com/AsVFhGWdKI
To a passenger you’d struggle to immediately notice the difference. Internally it looks the same as a modern diesel bus.
The ride is similar, but no engine vibrations for instance while stationary.
Externally there are no fumes, and little noise. Apart from the signage the main distinguishing visible feature is the big orange bulge on the roof near the front –
presumably part of the battery the aircon.
Transdev ran an electric bus for a couple of years. This was something they funded themselves, and when they lost the Melbourne contract, they moved this bus to Sydney.
The new crop of electric buses is part of new operator Kinetic’s contract, and the government has said that from 2025, all new public transport buses will be zero emissions – which means electric or some other technology such as hydrogen.
The nature of it is that you can’t just plonk lots of electric buses into existing depots than run a diesel fleet. Some work needs to be done first to install charging equipment. It may mean we see the electric buses initially take over in specific depots during the rollout – for instance, Seymour town buses are going all-electric.
We may also see electric buses more commonly used in urban areas, as the stop-start traffic is more efficient for them thanks to regenerative braking and battery capacity limitations. Possibly hydrogen will become more common on long distance rural routes.
Electric buses cost more to deploy, but the ongoing fuel and maintenance costs are reduced.
It’s great to see this happening. Right across Melbourne we need bus route reform and more frequent services. Even a diesel bus route is less carbon-intensive than everybody driving their own cars.
But replacing diesel buses with electric or hydrogen is also very welcome, and paves the way to a greener public transport network.