MIL-OSI Australia: Wheels turning on manufacture of new electric buses in WA

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Source: Australian Ministers 1

In a major milestone for the transition to zero-emission public transport in Western Australia, the first electric bus to be manufactured as part of a joint $250 million Australian and Western Australian Government initiative has now been completed.

The Australian Government has committed $125 million toward electric bus charging infrastructure in Perth, combined with a $125 million commitment from the Western Australian Government for the acquisition of 130 locally manufactured electric buses.

The electric bus was built and manufactured locally at the Volgren facility in Malaga, in Perth’s north.

The investment will also include the installation of charging infrastructure at key depots and major upgrades to manufacturing facilities to support the future production of electric buses.

The bus is now undergoing testing and commissioning and is expected to enter services in the next two months.

The new bus will be one of 18 electric buses used on the CBD CAT bus routes, with a $1.65 million contract recently awarded JET Charge Pty Ltd to install charging infrastructure at the Elizabeth Quay Bus Station.

All 18 new electric CAT buses are expected to be in service by the middle of next year, with each bus able to travel up to 300 kilometres on a single charge.

Analysis undertaken by the Western Australian Government shows the cost to operate an electric bus across its 18-year service life is around $1 million less than the current diesel buses.

The delivery of the first full fleet of electric buses comes after a trial of four electric buses began in the Joondalup area, in northern Perth, in February 2022.

All four electric buses are still in service, operating from the Joondalup Bus Depot using a high-voltage EV charging system to power the buses.

Since the trial began, they’ve carried more than 440,000 passengers and covered more than 380,000 kilometres, saving about 350 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions in the process.

The investment to deliver the new electric bus fleet in Western Australia is directly supporting more than 100 local jobs, including nine apprenticeships.

Volgren has been building Transperth buses at its Malaga facility since 1999, with more than 2,200 manufactured and delivered over that time.

Staff have also undertaken specialised high-voltage technical training in recent weeks to prepare them for the growing electric bus fleet.

Quotes attributable to Western Australian Premier Roger Cook:

“Under our Labor Government, we’re building WA’s clean energy future right here in WA. 

“In partnership with the Federal Labor Government, we’re delivering the next generation of electric buses, locally built in our northern suburbs.

“It means we’re cutting emissions, busting congestion and providing affordable public transport while creating local jobs and building our skilled workforce for the future.”

Quotes attributable to Federal Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government Catherine King:

“The Australian Government is investing in a future made in Australia. Perth’s economy will be boosted for years to come from this funding partnership with the Western Australian Government which supports jobs and local manufacturing.

“We’re partnering with the Western Australian Government to deliver sustainable and cost-effective transport options to improve services and travel times for public transport users in Perth.”

Quotes attributable to Western Australian Transport Minister Rita Saffioti:

“Not only are these buses cleaner and better for the environment, they’re also cheaper to operate than the current diesel buses.

“The fact that four electric buses being trialled in Joondalup have saved 350 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions while carrying more than 440,000 passengers in just two years, shows why this technology is considered the future of bus travel in cities all around the world.

“The joint investment by our Government and the Albanese Labor Government is not just about the delivery of new electric buses, it’s about ensuring our manufacturing facilities, depots and bus stations have the infrastructure to support a future bus fleet that is fully electric.”

Quotes attributable to Federal Member for Perth Patrick Gorman:

“Electric buses for Perth will make our community cleaner and more sustainable.

“The strong partnership with the Australian and West Australian governments is building the charging network to transition to a fully electric fleet. This is a national investment that delivers on Perth’s local values.

“As the Federal Member for Perth, I back Australia’s manufacturing industry that is building electric buses right here in WA.”

Quotes attributable to Federal Member for Cowan Anne Aly:

“This is a big win for the people in my electorate of Cowan thanks to the Australian and Western Australian Labor governments, who have partnered to provide a sustainable and cost-effective public transport solution including the local manufacture of electric buses.

“Rolling out this new electric bus fleet means a range of benefits for public transport users in Perth, including lower running costs and less greenhouse gas emissions than diesel and natural gas-powered models.”

 Quotes attributable to State Member for Perth John Carey:

“The CBD CAT service is an incredibly important part of the transportation mix available in our inner-city, with the Government making significant investments in recent years to expand services to more areas and later in the evening.

“Shifting the CAT bus services to fully electric is another important way we are enhancing the service – both environmentally and economically.”

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