Sydney Airport goes electric

Sydney Airport is seeking expressions of interest from electric bus manufacturers

Those who fail to adapt will surely perish.

This seems to be the thinking behind Sydney Airport’s decision to replace its ageing diesel bus fleet with new electric buses.

The airport has invited expressions of interest from manufacturers to take part in an open tender for the supply of six electric buses, to shuttle passengers along the 2km route between the domestic terminal and the car park.

While the cost of switching to electric buses will come at an increased cost initially, the move is expected to deliver savings in the long term.

Sydney Airport general manager parking and ground transport Craig Norton says the move comes hot on the heels of a sustainability report that was conducted by the airport and fits well with the vision it has for the future.

"The tender process will be totally open," he says.

"We want the best, most efficient service possible and while we always like to support Australian firms, we will be looking to the manufacturer who can provide this.

"We do understand that we are one of the first Australian airports and we are focused on leading the way in terms of sustainability, looking after the environment and providing an even better service to our customers."

In 2014, more than 1.6 million passengers and airport workers were transported on the short but busy route.

The high cost of setting up infrastructure to accommodate an electric bus service is part of the reason why the organisation has gone with an open tender.

"We do understand there will be higher costs for the charging stations," Norton says.

"I would hope that the entire process would only take nine to 12 months, but it depends on the lead time for the manufacturers.

"We want to move as fast as possible."

 The short and flat route is deemed to be perfect operating conditions for electric buses and there is plenty of space for the recharging stations.

The service is complimentary for those who pay for parking at the airport and also used by airport and airline staff.

Norton and his colleagues have spoken with airport managers at other airports that have recently switched to using electric buses in the UK.

"We have had initial discussions and all the feedback we’re getting is positive," Norton says.

"I am really pleased that we are moving in this direction. It shows how serious we are about our commitment to sustainability."

Sydney Airport is advertising its electric bus tender in a number of publications in Australia, the

USA, the UK, Europe and Asia, with interested parties required to register by 12 June.

"This is a busy shuttle route, and optimum operational efficiency and passenger comfort will be two of the key criteria we’ll look for from any manufacturer," Norton says.

Electric shuttle buses currently operate in Manchester and Nottingham in the UK, while electric buses have been trialled in Los Angeles and Kuala Lumpur.

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