The West Australian government says it will trial four of Volvo’s all-electric buses in 2022, in the first step towards a much-delayed transitioning of Perth’s 900-strong bus fleet away from diesel models and to zero-emissions alternatives.
The electric buses will be used to serve the Joondalup CAT service, a free bus loop that serves the central hub of the Joondalup town centre in Perth’s north, which includes a major shopping centre, the local hospital and a campus for the Edith Cowan University.
The Western Australian transport minister, Rita Saffioti, says the 5-kilometre Joondalup CAT service loop was the ideal way to trial and assess the all-electric bus models.
“Trialling new, green technology is a great use of our public transport network, already one of the most environmentally friendly ways to get around Perth,” Western Australian transport minister Rita Saffioti said.
“This is the first time we have trialled electric buses on a CAT route and I’m excited to see what commuters think about this new technology.”
The trial of the all-electric bus models is part of a $549 million deal struck between the Volvo and the Western Australian government, which had appeared set to see diesel buses locked in as the primary transport option used by the West Australian Public Transport Authority.
Volvo will supply buses with a range of potential configurations, which come with either one or two 200kW electric motors and lithium-ion battery storage with up to 396kWh of storage capacity.
The buses will be partially built in Australia, through a partnership with local bus manufacturer Volgren Australia which will supply locally built bus bodies. It will be one of the early deployments of the all-electric Volgren models, which have been developed in partnership with leading Chinese electric vehicle manufacturer BYD.
Volvo said that it had the option to propose alternative models under the supply contract, and would look to expand its offering of all-electric bus models.
“Volvo’s contract with PTA included a technology roadmap that allowed PTA to access diesel, self-charging electric and battery-electric vehicles over time. PTA can access the variety of tools available to them and match the technology to the route and need,” vice president Volvo Buses Asia Pacific David Mead said.
Volvo hopes that the trial will ultimately lead to the increased deployment of all-electric bus models throughout public transport systems.
“This project is about much more than the buses,” Mead added. “We have worked with the PTA on a number of areas including simulating the routes to create our charging strategy, charging infrastructure, understanding capital works needs in the depot, training of staff, safety elements, certification and standards compliance.
“That means we are creating a scalable, end to end implementation plan that can be replicated in the future.”
An additional contract for the modification of the Joondalup bus depot, to incorporate a high-voltage EV charging system to support the electric bus network is set to be awarded shortly.
The announcement of the Western Australian bus trial follows the announcement of $1 billion in contracts for Brisbane’s all-electric metro bus service, which will deploy 60 all-electric buses as part of a major revamp of the city’s CBD transport services.
The NSW government has also flagged plans to transition the entirety of Sydney’s 8000-strong fleet of public transport bus services to all-electric models, as bus operator contracts are re-negotiated over the next few years.