BRISBANE NATURAL-GAS BUS PHASE-OUT REASON: EXPLOSIONS!

By: Fabian Cotter, Photography by: Alamy


CLEAN DIESEL-technology buses will slowly replace Brisbane City Council’s aging ‘eco-friendly’ natural-gas run fleet, with reported explosions resulting in gas tanks only being half filled for safety, affecting efficiency, an ABC Radio Brisbane broadcast highlights recently.

BRISBANE NATURAL-GAS BUS PHASE-OUT REASON: EXPLOSIONS!
As the report states, Brisbane Public and Active Transport chair Councillor Ryan Murphy says natural gas "at its heart" was cleaner than diesel, but the former had not progressed in two decades.

As the basis for a printed story on www.abc.net.au called "Brisbane City Council swaps 'exploding' gas-powered buses for diesel following gas cylinder explosions", it states that the, "…new diesel buses are a stopgap, with Brisbane City Council's long-term plans to use a mix of greener technologies, like electricity and hydrogen, still years off."

It added: "Explosions in 2008 and 2012 led to policies that restricted gas buses operating with half-filled tanks, which meant they needed to be refuelled more often.

"The council is withdrawing the gas buses, which make up about a third of the fleet, and they will be off the roads by 2027," it stated.

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NO PROGRESS

As the report states, Brisbane Public and Active Transport chair Councillor Ryan Murphy says natural gas "at its heart" was cleaner than diesel, but the former had not progressed in two decades.

As a result, the Euro 6 standard diesels — the council's bus of choice — had "leapfrogged" gas buses, with lower particulate and nitrous oxide emissions, it says.

"By 2023 we want to have a procurement strategy in place that uses all those new technologies that we've been speaking about — hydrogen, electric — it's going to be a mix of different technologies, but it's got to work in Brisbane conditions," Councillor Murphy said.

He explains that the council wanted electric and hydrogen-powered buses, but needed to make sure they would work in Brisbane's climate and conditions, and at scale, the national-broadcaster ABC news report states.

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Councillor Murphy pointed to the first Brisbane Metro bus that would arrive mid next year: an electric bus that could carry 150 passengers, reach 90 kilometres per hour, and fully charge in 4–6 minutes, the reports states.

The United Kingdom and France want diesel banned by 2040, and India wants it off roads by 2030, but Counsellor Murphy says those countries are taking "some pretty big bets" on their future public transport fleets and Brisbane would be more conservative, it quotes.

"By 2023 we want to have a procurement strategy in place that uses all those new technologies that we've been speaking about — hydrogen, electric — it's going to be a mix of different technologies, but it's got to work in Brisbane conditions," he said.

"Diesel is going to need to be in the mix in our public transport fleet for the foreseeable future."

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THE EXPLOSIONS

Brisbane opposition leader Councillor Jared Cassidy (ALP) says natural gas buses - introduced under Labor Lord Mayor Jim Soorley - had carried millions of passengers for two decades.

"At the time they were cutting-edge technology," he said, though ‘conceded it was disappointing that two gas cylinders had exploded in the fleet’, the report states.

Councillor Cassidy supported the council's plan to import 60 electric buses for Brisbane Metro, but insisted it needed to be more ambitious and power its entire 1,200-strong fleet with electric or hydrogen, it explains.

Councillor Cassidy says bus manufacturer Volgren, based in Brisbane, had the capability with its international counterparts to develop and build electric buses for the city's non-Metro routes, the report confirms.

"We've got a fleet of 1,200 buses," he said.

"We'd be one of the very few of the bus operators in Australia who could lead the way on introducing electric buses on a mass scale.

Councillor Murphy says replacing the city's diesel buses "overnight" would be financially irresponsible and leave working buses with "nothing to do".

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