The Liberal NSW government will begin the transition of its entire bus fleet to zero emissions transport within the decade, starting with 120 electric buses in 2021.
The first 50 electric buses will service Sydney routes in the inner west, south west and north, said NSW minister for transport Andrew Constance in a statement to the press on Wednesday.
Another 70 are also on order from Truegreen’s Nexport, which is setting up a manufacturing facility in the southern Highlands, but are yet to be allocated to services, according to Nexport.
The 120 electric buses are the first to transition in the NSW 8,000-strong bus fleet, and will be supplied by Nexport from a number of bus makers including BCI, Yutong, Nexport BYD Gemilang and Nexport BYD Volgren.
“I want to scale up our efforts towards tackling climate change so I am challenging Transport for NSW to aim for my goal of electrifying the state’s entire bus fleet by 2030,” Constance said.
“I am excited to see us one step closer to our vision of creating a greener, cleaner and healthier future for the people of NSW, with more people now able to enjoy our electric bus fleet right across Sydney.”
The roll out comes after the successful completion of trials of electric buses on inner west bus routes after NSW first announced its ambitious plan in October 2019.
“Over the last 18 months we’ve been trialling five electric buses in the Inner West, and the feedback from drivers and customers has been positive,” said Constance.
Today I announced the NSW Government’s plan to transition the state’s fleet of 8,000 buses to zero emission technology by 2030.
— Andrew Constance MP (@AndrewConstance) December 1, 2020
The first tranche of electric buses will be rolled out operators across Sydney including Punchbowl Bus Company, Busabout and Interline in the south west, Transdev in the north, and Transit Systems in inner west where more than 30 buses will be deployed.
“This is wonderful news, we welcome the minister’s commitment,” Truegreen and Nexport CEO Luke Todd told The Driven.
“We’ve been working with government for some time on various projects, but to actually have a dedicated timing and target gives a clear indication to the market as a whole as to how and when to electrify the fleet of NSW.”
Nexport, which is one of a raft of clean transport initiatives under the TrueGreen banner, laid out a plan to build an electric vehicle manufacturing industry in Moss Vale, NSW in October.
Under the $700 million plan, 2,000 jobs would be created at the fully operational facility by 2025, with initial stages to supply current orders to the NSW state government creating 300-400 jobs.
“This is the starting line of a major evolution in electrifying NSW’s bus fleet and links perfectly in with our $700 million plan to build a production facility to make electric buses in Moss Vale NSW,” said Todd.
Todd says that meetings with the Moss Vale council and stakeholders so far have been met with a “extremely high level of desire to support what we’re doing”, and planning approval applications will be submitted imminently with a view to start building buses in Moss Vale in 2021.
Transport for NSW’s deputy secretary of Greater Sydney, Elizabeth Mildwater, said in a statement that more local manufacturers will feature in future orders of zero emission buses.
“There are a lot more zero emission buses to come and we’re delighted that local manufacturers like Bustech and Custom Buses are getting into the game with their buses currently undergoing a review to ensure they meet local standards, while Nexport is planning to set up a local plant,” Mildwater said.
“Once they and other manufacturers are ready, our operators will have more choices to buy locally. In the current order, the Volgren bus body is being assembled in Victoria using a chassis made by BYD. ”
This article has been updated to clarify the minister did not announce the additional 70 buses, and that the Volgren bus body is being assembled in Victoria.
Bridie Schmidt is associate editor for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018, and has a keen interest in the role that zero-emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum. Bridie also owns a Tesla Model Y and has it available for hire on evee.com.au.