Following the three-month trial, Busways has released the results of its latest zero-emissions bus test
Operator Busways’ three-month test of a European model zero-emissions bus (ZEB) in Coffs Harbour wrapped up last week with promising results for regional deployments.
The Volvo BZL Electric model featuring a bus body made in Macksville by Express Coach Builders has carried close to 5000 passengers in the area since January on its first public operation in NSW.
Busways ZEB and Innovations Manager Joe Kotevich says the Volvo/ Express bus delighted drivers and the public with its quiet and smooth ride and strong performance in regional conditions.
“What was most surprising was how well the vehicle performed in a regional environment,” he says.
“We had initial concerns the high summer temperatures and varied quality of roads might be problematic for the electric bus, however the Volvo/ Express took everything in its stride and we were able to use it like any other bus during the trial.”
Busways Chief Operating Officer Chris Wolf says the test generated valuable data and gave vital teachings to Busways’ operational, driver and maintenance staff to help the company finetune its blueprint for future electric bus deployments.
“The data will be shared with Transport for NSW as part of collaborative effort to develop the road map for rural and regional ZEB deployments — infrastructure to support ZEB deployment will be key,” Wolf says.
Busways ran the Volvo/ Express ZEB on a variety of routes and school services and provided more than 20 Busways drivers with important electric bus education.
Busways says the bus travelled more than 7500 kilometres on different terrain, often in very hot conditions. Even when charged from the existing grid, this represents a saving of four and a half tonnes of carbon emissions, with green power options likely to increase this saving.
Close to 60 per cent of riders surveyed say they had never ridden an electric bus before. One rider told Busways her five-year-old son loved riding in the electric bus and “informing everyone how they work and are better for the environment”.
The testing of the Volvo/ Express ZEB in Coffs Harbour ran in parallel with testing of a Nexport/ BYD electric bus in Penrith, Sydney and follows Busways’ procurement of the Australian made Custom Denning Element vehicles for Western Sydney in 2021 and 2022 and an earlier Busways trial of a Yutong E12 model in Coffs Harbour in 2021.
Testing looks at components such as suspension, doors, driveline, air conditioning, manufacturer support and additional training needed for drivers or maintenance teams.
General Manager of Volvo Bus Australia Mitch Peden says Volvo was pleased to be able to showcase to Busways and the Coffs Harbour community how exceptional the Volvo BZL Electric chassis is.
“It’s wonderful for long term business partners like Busways to experience first-hand the drivability, serviceability and genuine reliability of the Volvo BZL Electric and we’re pleased to contribute to the local economy by working with Macksville based Express Coach Builders on this model,” Peden says.