E-bus fine on city hills, trial shows

The electric bus during its trial in Dunedin. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
The electric bus during its trial in Dunedin. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
An electric bus performed well in a month-long trial in Dunedin, but converting the city’s diesel fleet will not be as easy as a simple swap.

Challenges included a wider turning circle for the e-bus than for a typical two-axle diesel bus in the city and its extra weight would prevent its use on some bridges.

However, the bus had easily enough battery capacity for the routes used in the trial and had no trouble coping with Dunedin’s hills.

The trial of the 35-seater Enviroline bus built by Global Bus Ventures in Rolleston finished in late October.

"We found out that this type of electric bus can operate well on a large part of Dunedin’s public transport network," council transport implementation adviser Abbey Chamberlain said.

"Battery usage was not an issue, and the bus worked well on the different types of terrain."

The bus used between 40% and 50% of battery capacity on a full day of service.

That could open the door to reducing the capacity, which could allow the bus to be both lighter and easier to manoeuvre.

Go Bus Transport brought the bus to Dunedin.

Bridges subject to weight restrictions were not on its routes.

However, the Dunedin City Council might at some point need to be approached about strengthening bridges and updating other infrastructure, such as bus stops, to better accommodate large buses.

Other options for the regional council include opting for a smaller electric model or pursuing a hydrogen-fuelled alternative.

Go Bus Transport chief executive Calum Haslop said the bus used for the trial handled steep streets with ease.

"The drivers loved driving it and are sad to see it go," he said.

"As a result of the trial, we have confidence that electric buses can easily be part of Dunedin’s public transport future, and Go Bus looks forward to the opportunity of bringing zero-emission buses to Dunedin, permanently.”

Ms Chamberlain said passenger feedback was positive.

The trial, including marketing, cost the regional council about $30,000.

Go Bus Transport provided the bus and covered operational costs.

The Government announced this year it would allow only zero-emission buses to be bought for public transport from 2025 and it wanted "complete decarbonisation" of the public transport bus fleet by 2035.

Council staff will report back next year on the scope to prepare a transition plan to a zero-emission public transport fleet.



If you've seen the struggle of existing buses in the center of town, moray to princes st etc etc....
I fail to see how buses with a larger turning circle are going to cope, current ones barely squeeze through as it is