By: Fabian Cotter, Photography by: courtesy Kinetic

SKYBUS operator Kinetic will introduce no fewer than 36 fully electric buses to the Melbourne metro network by mid-2025, following its AUD$2.3 Billion ‘franchise’ win, it was announced recently.

Key workers at Transdev, including about 1,100 bus drivers, will be offered employment with Kinetic, and buses and six bus depots will transfer over on 31 January next year, the Victorian State Government confirms.

As part of the Victorian State Government’s aim to transition its massive bus fleet to low-to-zero emissions - pledging specifically, "…all new public transport buses to be zero emissions from 2025" - Melbourne-based Kinetic will operate a third of the metropolitan bus network from 31 January, 2022, to June, 2031, the government confirms.

Kinetic, which runs Skybus and local bus routes across Australasia - a slew of key operations now, in fact - will introduce the 36 fully electric buses to the network by mid-2025, including five by June next year.

More than half of the franchise fleet - 341 of the 537 buses - will be replaced with low- or zero-emission vehicles over the term of the franchise, the Victorian government states.

The new environmentally friendly electric and hybrid buses will be made at Volgren’s Dandenong South facility, "…supporting jobs, boosting the local economy and helping to build Victoria’s engineering, design and manufacturing expertise in these emerging technologies," it explains.

shutterstock_1643566069 x.jpg


Victoria’s Public Transport Minister Ben Carroll said: "We are jump-starting our push for a zero-emissions bus fleet in Victoria to benefit the environment and help build our engineering, design and manufacturing expertise in these emerging technologies."

"The roll out of 36 electric buses early on in this partnership will accelerate our pledge for all new buses from 2025 to be zero emissions and, importantly, will contribute to the learnings of the three-year Zero Emissions Bus Project," he explained.

Department of Transport head of Transport Services Nick Foa said: "We have undertaken a robust and competitive tender process over the past year, and we look forward to working with Kinetic to continue to improve the travelling experience for bus passengers across its 50 routes."

"We thank Transdev for supporting the State in providing a safe and reliable bus network and for working with us over the next four months to ensure a smooth transition for its employees and passengers."

shutterstock_1925401211 x.jpg


A minimum fleet target of 60 per cent local content will apply to the electric and hybrid buses, and Kinetic will also deliver on a local content target of 90 per cent for operations, such as fuel and uniforms, the government explains.

Knowledge from the early introduction of electric buses will add to the findings of the Government’s three-year, $20 million Zero Emissions Bus Project, which will start early next year, it adds.

The franchise, currently operated by Transdev Melbourne, transports millions of passengers each year across 50 bus routes - including the popular orbital routes that connect Melbourne’s middle ring suburbs and city commuter services, such as the Doncaster Area Rapid Transit.

The contract with Kinetic will see, "…an uplift in operational performance – driving greater reliability and a strong focus on customer outcomes and increased cleaning," the government stated.

Key workers at Transdev, including about 1,100 bus drivers, will be offered employment with Kinetic, and buses and six bus depots will transfer over on 31 January next year, it confirms.

Co-CEO Kinetic Adam Begg stated: "With a leadership team that has grown up catching buses in and around Melbourne, this is an incredibly exciting announcement for us to partner with the Victorian Government to modernise the city’s bus experience and deliver benefits to the whole community."

"We understand the incredible influence bus networks have on the livelihoods of communities and we’re fully supportive of delivering a world-class transport network that supports opportunity, inclusion, growth and community connections for generations to come."

shutterstock_1338171824 x.jpg


Melbourne-based Kinetic bought Skybus in 2014 and now operates urban, regional, school and airport bus services across Australia and New Zealand, it states.

Kinetic now operates 52 bus contracts and 3,000 buses that move more than 50 million passengers per year, it adds.

In a first for a bus contract in Victoria, Kinetic has targets to increase the recruitment of women and priority job seekers - such as long-term unemployed and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people - and to increase spend with Aboriginal businesses and disability enterprises, it explains.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Sign up to receive the ABC e-newsletter, digital magazine and other offers we choose to share with you straight to your inbox

You can also follow our updates by liking us on Facebook