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First WA jointly funded electric buses completed

The electric bus has rolled out of Volgren’s Malaga facility as the first delivered in the $250 million joint initiative

The Western Australian and federal governments have revealed that they’ve hit a major milestone in the transition of zero-emissions public transport in WA, with the state’s first electric bus manufactured as part of a joint initiative now completed.

The first electric bus was built locally at Volgren’s Malaga facility in Perth’s north, with the bus representing the first bus built as part of the joint $250 million project between the federal and WA governments.

The federal government has committed $125 million towards electric bus charging infrastructure in Perth, with a further $125 million provided by the WA government to acquire 130 locally manufactured electric buses.

“Under our government, we’re building WA’s clean energy future right here in WA,” WA premier Roger Cook says.

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

Image: Volgren

“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.”

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 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.

“The federal 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,” federal transport minister Catherine King says.

“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.”

“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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