“We’ve managed to sort that out now so it has a much smoother start, which is actually much better for its battery as well.”
The bus, which can transport more than 60 passengers sitting and standing, has an on-board battery that allows it to travel up to 300 kilometres without needing a recharge.
The bus is set to arrive in Brisbane in December after being fine-tuned in Melbourne, and will undergo further testing on routes in Brisbane and the Redlands over the next two years, before being put into service as part of TransLink’s fleet.
“Once the vehicle is operational we want to try it out on several routes and see how it performs and how we can get the most efficient use out of it,” Mr Cleave said.
The bus is recharged by a purpose-built array of 10 Tesla powerwalls installed at Transdev’s Capalaba depot, which are themselves fed by 250 solar panels on the depot’s roof.
This means the “e-bus” is 100 per cent solar-powered, which will be an Australian first when it starts active service.
It also has the capability to recharge its battery as it is driving by generating energy from its brakes, with plans to retrain drivers on how to get the most out of the vehicle compared with a standard fuel-powered bus.
TransLink chief executive Matt Longland said they were very excited by Transdev’s electric bus and were keen to see how it performed on the road.
“We’ve got a commitment from the Queensland government to move to a zero-emissions economy, and that’s about looking at the contribution we make in transport and making public transport even more sustainable,” Mr Longland said.
“Part of that is learning from what’s happening in other parts of the world, as bus fleets move into zero-emission vehicles.”
Transdev’s Queensland head of business Mark McKenzie said the company had introduced similar vehicles in other countries including New Zealand, but it made perfect sense to put a solar-powered bus on the roads of the Sunshine State.
“It’s part of planning for the future. Transdev has fleets internationally, we have over 850 electric vehicles running internationally and we’re always looking for the next generation,” Mr McKenzie said.
Depending on how the e-bus performed, Transdev said it could add more electric buses to its Brisbane fleet, with the powerwall set-up able to be easily scaled to three times its current output without having to extend the installation.
The bus also features USB charging ports for phones and other devices as well as an on-board passenger monitoring system and real-time efficiency data which is fed back to Transdev for future development.
Stuart Layt covers health, science and technology for the Brisbane Times. He was formerly the Queensland political reporter for AAP.