Queensland capital Brisbane will be the first city in Australia to receive a fleet of all-electric, high-capacity public transport vehicles thanks to a tender won by bus maker Volgren in partnership with Swiss vehicle maker Hess AG.
Announced by Brisbane’s LNP lord mayor Adrian Schrinner on Sunday, the deal will see 60 of the 24.4 metre long vehicles, that can carry 150 comfortably and 180 for peak periods such as events, designed and built for the $944 million Brisbane Metro public transport system by Hess AG and its partners.
The bi-articulated 3-carriage vehicles will offer passengers the opportunity to use public transport with no diesel emissions and fumes associated with the city’s current fleet of public buses and trains, as well as greater accessibility.
In addition to the ability to travel about the city in clean and green style, the metro vehicles will also offer passengers up-to-date connectivity features including free wi-fi and on-board USB charging.
Four large entry ways will allow customers to board and disembark in shorter amounts of time, and when stopped the vehicles will be able to “flash charge” in less than 6 minutes to recharge driving range.
It is a sustainable step forward for the Queensland capital city which first announced its intention to tender for a fleet of clean green public transport options in March, but the deal will cost an additional $100 million on top of the original budget of $94 million.
The announcement by Schrinner has been criticised by Labor mayoral candidate Pat Condren, who says that Labor’s 2016 election promise of light rail was “right on the money” according to Brisbane Times.
But Schrinner told Brisbane Times that the original $94 million was based on purchasing a diesel fleet should suitable electric drivetrain technology not be available.
The new figure also takes into account the need for the installation of charging infrastructure to power the metro vehicles, with Schrinner saying it was a “pleasant surprise” to find that suitable electric drivetrain technology does indeed exist, and that the higher upfront cost would be offset by lower maintenance and overall operating costs.
In addition to the 60 vehicles, it is understood that Brisbane City Council will also upgrade its Rochedale facility to accommodate the charging needs of the fleet.
A pilot vehicle will first be built for trialling in 2020, after which an additional 59 vehicles are slated for purchase with an eye to services commencing in 2023 subject to approvals.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.