Bus Industry News, Charging Infrastructure, Electric Buses

Bus Stop Sales goes the distance on electric bus voyage

Bus Stop Sales is already a leader in battery electric bus solutions in Australia, but it took its knowledge to the next level on a recent trip in its high-floor EVolution coach.

The past year has been filled with many discussions about the potential of zero-emissions buses to travel long distances. 

In order to collect real data to review and share with others, Bus Stop Sales embarked on its own journey to trial its high-floor EVolution coach between capital cities. 

“We’re very excited to offer the broadest range of fully electric buses in Australia and are always looking for ways to test and trial our products and technology,” Bus Stop CEO and director Pete White told ABC. 

“As we have made the commercial decision to invest in electric buses instead of hydrogen, we wanted to experience the challenges our operator partners would face with our current zero-emissions bus options.” 

The project helped Bus Stop tackle the leading challenge facing Australia’s electric bus fleet for manufacturers in designing buses that can travel long distances where charging infrastructure might not be readily accessible.

The adventure started treacherously when a recent charger failure forced Bus Stop to engage a tow truck between Brisbane and Mackay and plot a new trial route from Brisbane to Melbourne.

On its journey, Bus Stop’s team stopped eight times to charge the new high-floor EVolution electric coach. 

As the first fully electric school bus sold in Australia based on the famous King Long 57-seat product, the Bus Stop EVolution high-floor coach is higher than the five-metre standard trailer and load height placed on truck trailers.

With this in mind, White’s team realised it needed to offer more than just a leading electric coach option.

“We learnt that we need to become true partners with operators to provide opportunities and a network of items including depot design, charging options, range suitability and full aftersales support,” White says.

“The bus specification and supply can be relatively straightforward in some states, but we will continue to invest energy and effort into supporting the product end-to-end.”

Before undertaking the journey, White understood that this trial would be the first of its distance to be attempted by a heavy electric vehicle. Fortunately, Bus Stop is no stranger to pushing the boundaries – White says the supplier was the first to design and sell an electric high-floor school bus and coach.

Only publicly available charging infrastructure was deemed to be used across Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. 

With a well-planned itinerary and a companion support diesel bus, the King Long EVolution high-floor coach took off on its trip. White says it quickly became evident that the coach performed flawlessly, but the public charging stations needed to be more suitable for such a voyage. 

The total trip involved White’s team travelling 1879 kilometres in the coach, with the model consuming just under 1kw of power per kilometre. 

“We found that unlike diesel models, which are topped up in fuel when required, it wasn’t possible to charge electric buses in the same way,” White says.

“Traditionally, you fill up a diesel bus when it’s running low on fuel. However, as there are limited charging stations and even less convenient bus access, it’s safer to charge electric buses wherever you can.”

RELATED ARTICLE: Bus Stop leads the charge with expanded electric offers

Bus Stop also found that the quality of the charger is essential to an efficient journey over such a long distance. White says some chargers on the route were only 50kw, whereas others along the way could charge at a higher capacity, shortening the wait time to set.

Bus Stop chose the online route planning tool PlugShare to select public charging stations to accommodate larger electric vehicles, with photo reviews of each site helping White choose the suitable chargers. 


“Two stations were out of order and awaiting repair while a further two charging stations classified as superchargers could not provide the high voltage and current required to charge the large battery capacity of the King Long EVolution bus,” White says.

“Electric buses typically require higher voltage and current levels than light vehicles, so the infrastructure must be designed to accommodate these requirements.”

Although the journey was successful for the EVolution high-floor model, White says the lack of accessibility was a glaring challenge. He says more than 80 per cent of the charging stations would not allow a bus of 12.5 meters to manoeuvre adequately in tight spaces designed for motor cars. 

On the trip, most charging stations were found to be placed in existing car parks, making them unsuitable for buses or heavy vehicles to use. 

“It quickly became evident that parking spaces need to be wider to accommodate the bus as the drivers had difficulties connecting the charging cable on nearly every occasion and experienced frustrating small light vehicle drivers,” White says.

“At 422kw, the King Long EVolution bus has a larger battery capacity than most light vehicles, requiring more charging time. Public charging stations are typically designed for light vehicles, which means that the charging times may need to be increased to charge the bus in a reasonable amount of time.”

While the infrastructure for electric vehicles is growing rapidly, many areas still need reliable charging infrastructure to prevent buses from running out of charge and being stranded at public charging stations that don’t work for heavy vehicles.

White says operators may need contingency plans to ensure they can continue their journey if a charging station is not working or is unavailable.

With public chargers varying in fees, Bus Stop has made its Tritium super charging station available to all bus operators free of charge should they need to charge at the Rocklea Head Office site for the remainder of 2023.

“What is certain is that battery electric products like the EVolution models are ideal for many consistent short-to-medium bus routes such as school bus and urban routes,” White says.  

“We’re looking forward to applying our learnings from the trip on our growing electric bus product range.” 

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