By: Fabian Cotter, Photography by: courtesy Busways

BREAKING: During the next three weeks Coffs Harbour locals will get to experience zero-emissions bus rides thanks to Busways’ trial of a Yutong E12 along school and route services, the operator announced today.

“The launch of this trial is exciting because its outcomes will help shape how we move in and around the regions into the future,” NSW Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole said.

As the first electric bus on the roads of the NSW Mid-North Coast city, the aim is to test the vehicle and charging technology in a regional environment, Busways explains.

The electric bus is fitted with 374kW/h battery capacity giving it a range of up to 400km on a single charge under current conditions in Coffs Harbour, it states. The bus provides lower energy consumption resulting in a quieter, smoother experience for customers and better air quality for the community, it adds.

The Yutong E12 Series incorporates advanced technologies including regenerative braking, which extends the vehicle’s driving range, and fast charging in three hours, Yutong explains. It’s also equipped with a wheelchair ramp and dual wheelchair areas with back stop for passenger safety in its ultra-low-floor design, it states.

"Electric buses are our future and we’re pleased to be trialling the first electric bus on the north coast," Busways’ managing director Byron Rowe said. 

"There’s a lot to do to reach a fully electric fleet such as innovative policy making, joint planning, infrastructure requirements, and industry engagement, such as trials like this one."

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Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole says the NSW government was committed to transitioning to a zero-emissions bus fleet as part of its strategy to make public transport more sustainable.

"The launch of this trial is exciting because its outcomes will help shape how we move in and around the regions into the future," Minister Toole said.

"Trials like these help us learn more about what fit electric buses could have in the regions, particularly where longer distance routes are more common than in metro areas, as well as how to factor in charging times.

"Feedback from operators like Busways on their experience is critical to landing the right technological solutions for the regions," he explained.

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Member for Coffs Harbour Gurmesh Singh says it was exciting to see Coffs as a key testing ground for new technology.

"Only last July, Coffs Harbour was one of just three regional centres in the state to trial new technology that real-time tracked the arrival of a bus, so to now be trialling the first electric bus on the North Coast is just another exciting initiative for our city," Singh said.

"We’re going to see the electric bus operate on several different routes and school services Monday to Friday, providing many Busways drivers with important electric bus education.

"The trial will also help inform us of the environmental and financial benefits of electric buses, as well as validate asset maintenance requirements and staff training needed to carry an electric fleet in the years to come."

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Busways is an Australian owned and operated company with more than 78 years’ experience in the transport industry, operating services across NSW and SA including Western Sydney, Central Coast, the Mid-North Coast and Adelaide’s outer-south network, it states. The company operates a fleet of 890 buses nationwide, including 277 on the NSW Mid-north coast and it says 26 million passengers travel on a Busways journey every year.

The company began as a single-person operation and has grown into a transportation business with a team in excess of 1756 people across 18 depots, it explains.

It provides school and route bus services, as well as expertise in transport operations, scheduling, asset management, marketing and communications and customer experience, it says.

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 Busways states according to a submission made by the Electric Vehicle Council in 2019:

  • In NSW, transport greenhouse gas emissions comprised 21 per cent of total emissions in 2016/17 studies found, making it the second largest source of emissions in the state. 
  • Road transport accounts for 85 per cent of transport emissions 
  • Electric buses do not produce tailpipe emissions. 

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