ABC Magazine Stories, Bus Features

Barker College students ride in the first Yutong C12E delivered in NSW

Barker College students enjoyed a memorable first day of the 2024 school year when the first Yutong C12E delivered in NSW joined CDC Charter’s school fleet

The first day of a school year is filled with plenty of sounds like joyous laughter as old friends reconvene after summer holidays. At Sydney’s Barker College, a new addition to the school’s bus fleet rolled up to the gates without a noise.

Throughout 2023, Barker College, through its operator partner ComfortDelGro Corporation (CDC) Australia, decided to move into the zero-emissions field with its school buses. As part of the Hornsby-based Anglican school’s 2022 Master Plan, a ‘Green Travel Plan’ moved the college to establish an electric school bus trial in August. 

“We were approached by Barker College to trial a number of electric school bus options, often on the Barker College routes, to allow us to gain a real life insight into the vehicle, its range and its performance,” CDC NSW CEO David Mead told ABC. 

The trial involved a Yutong C12E, provided by local distributor VDI Australia. Mead says both CDC Charter and Barker College were quickly impressed with the vehicle and the way the battery electric bus handled the routes.

“The support we received throughout the trial process also impressed us, as did the training provided to our workshops and drivers,” Mead says.

“The aftermarket focus we were exposed to with Yutong and its ability to meet commitments and promises made the C12E a standout.”

Following the trial, CDC Charter decided to buy its first Yutong C12E in NSW in December last year, with the bus delivered and training completed by January 20 this year. This speedy process meant the shiny new bus provided extra excitement on the first day of the school year as CDC Charter joined VDI/Yutong in ushering Barker College into its new era of sustainability.

“In partnering with CDC Charter and Yutong, we know they have the care and safety of our students as their first priority,” Barker College Head Phillip Heath told ABC. 

Not only was it a milestone day for the college, but the first day of the NSW school year also saw the first Yutong C12E sold and registered in the state hit the road. For CDC Charter, the delivery was its very first battery electric bus that it received. 

“The cooperation between our CDC Charter team and Yutong has been outstanding,” Mead says.

“VDI/Yutong has an experienced team with industry professionals who know what good support and back-up looks like, and they’ve certainly delivered.

“Barker College is a very engaged and committed partner, with the focus and drive of the school’s executive allowing the college to open new opportunities in optimising transport.”

While the C12E delivery to Barker College may not be the first time VDI has delivered an electric Yutong bus in Australia, it was still a milestone moment for its NSW operations. VDI national sales manager Sara Clark says it’s been a privilege to share the journey with both CDC Charter and Barker College.

“Barker College is empowering our future, one ride at a time, and leading the way towards a greener, healthier school environment with its commitment to sustainability, while shaping a brighter future for generations to come,” Clark told ABC. 

“Electric buses produce zero-emissions at the tailpipe. That cleaner air is not only great for the children on board, but also for the neighbourhood and surrounding community.

“Students will no longer be constantly exposed to diesel exhaust fumes and harmful pollution, dramatically reducing the risk for respiratory diseases such as asthma.

“This reduction in environmental pollution, as well as noise pollution, reaps tremendous rewards for children and surrounding communities.”  

The Yutong C12E bus is just over 12m in length, providing Yutong’s global YESS safety protection technology. The safety system comprises five layers of protection for the vehicle, system, battery pack, component and monitoring. 

Much like all Yutong buses destined for the Australian market, the C12E delivered to CDC Charter and Barker College comes equipped with CATL lithium iron phosphate batteries. As the world’s largest provider of electric vehicle batteries, CATL’s innovative technologies will help Yutong’s C12E provide performance, safety and efficiency boosts. 

“CATL battery technology is widely used by many automakers around the world and we at VDI are proud to offer this solution across the range of battery electric buses,” Clark says. 

“CATL’s industry leading Nano-rivet technology offers structural reinforcement and protection at the cell level. It greatly improves energy density and effectively balances high-standard safety and reliability.”

The Yutong C12E delivery is another major step in CDC Charter’s growing partnership with Barker College. For several years, the school and operator have worked together to run school transport routes for students. The dedicated bus service provides transport for Barker students from as far as Sydney’s Northern Beaches to Arcadia, Dural and the Lower North Shore each morning and afternoon.

Mead says the buses have been well received by both students and families, allowing CDC Charter to focus on the expansion of its zero-emissions goals. 

“This has been a great project that has allowed our organisation to manage the whole process ourselves with the support of VDI and Yutong,” Mead says.

“It’s allowed us to upskill our staff and involve the whole business, meaning we could manage the vehicle trial and selection process with our charter and assets teams.

“We’re very open to working with all of our customers and partners to create sustainable solutions, regardless of the need. This is a great step for us in preparing for the future.

“Having trialled a number of options, we’re comfortable that we chose a vehicle and organisation that provides the solutions we need.” 

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