Victoria’s first locally built and fully electric bus has been operating along one of the longest urban bus routes in the Southern Hemisphere, an 86-kilometre run around Melbourne as part of the phase three of its trial between Transdev Melbourne and the Department of Transport.
Transdev, the French-based public transport operator, recently revealed that the new phase of its trial began in May on Route 903 in Melbourne – an 86km run that takes it from Altona, south-west of Melbourne, north and around the outskirts of the city before heading south to Mordialloc, south-east of the city and halfway to the Mornington Peninsula.
The orbital route – which are designed to allow passengers in Melbourne’s middle and outer suburbs to travel across the city without having to venture into Melbourne’ CBD – is one of the longest urban bus routes in the southern hemisphere.
As such, Route 903, which can take anywhere from three to three-and-a-half hours from beginning to end, provides a perfect test case to prove the value of electric buses, and given the length of the journey, puts the bus to test in a variety of different traffic and weather conditions.
“Transdev is committed to identifying cleaner transport options which have a positive impact on the environment and local communities,” said Rachel Spencer, Interim Managing Director at Transdev Melbourne.
“This trial is demonstrating the benefits of zero emission buses and providing valuable local insights about how this technology can be scaled up to operate zero emission bus fleets.”
The electric bus trial is using a bus built locally by Volgren, based in Dandenong. Though it is difficult to determine exactly what bus is being used, it appears to be a bus purchased from Volgren by Transdev in November of 2019.
This, according to an announcement earlier this year in which Transdev announced that four new electric buses were rolling off the Volgren production line and destined for routes in Sydney and Brisbane.
If the electric bus running the 903 route is the same that was purchased in late-2019, it also spent time on Melbourne’s Route 246 and Route 251, providing high-frequency runs.
“Australia is on the cusp of an e-mobility revolution in public transport,” said Luke Agati, Transdev Australasia CEO, speaking in March. “For Transdev, it is our global experience paired with local ingenuity that is driving our charge towards the introduction of new zero-emissions fleets across our networks.
“We want to see more Australians travelling on zero-emissions electric and hydrogen powered buses, and we want Australian bus manufacturers to lead the journey with us, so communities like Dandenong benefit through more investment in local businesses and more local jobs.”
The Route 903 electric bus trial serves as an important steppingstone for Victoria’s public transport network. Victoria announced in November of 2020 that it was allocating $20 million in its next budget to facilitate a zero emissions public transport bus trial.
Meanwhile, last month, the Victorian Government announced that all public transport bus purchases would be zero emission vehicles starting from 2025.
“Our buses get thousands of Victorians where they need to go,” said Ben Carroll, Victoris Minister for Public Transport, speaking in November. “This investment will ensure a cleaner trip for our planet – and deliver hundreds of long-term jobs in the technology of the future.”
“We want Victoria to become a global leader in smart, sustainable transport solutions – backing our local manufacturing industry and the thousands of Victorians it employs.”