The Victorian government says it is working with regional bus operators in the state to shape its transition to a cleaner bus fleet, starting with a series of industry roundtables.
Victorian public and active transport minister Gabrielle Williams has launched the roundtables, which will take place in Colac, Shepparton and Morwell, for bus operators wanting to explore the specific challenges and opportunities that regional operators might face when transitioning fleets to zero-emissions.
The end goal is for these views to be represented in the state’s final plan for the zero-emissions bus rollout.
“Cutting emissions on our public transport network is critical to Victoria meeting its ambitious goal of net zero emissions by 2045,” Williams says.
“These regional roundtables are another opportunity for government and industry to work together towards ensuring a successful fleet transition as we drive down pollution and remove noisy diesel buses from our public network for good.”
In August, the state government released a consultation paper to support the transition to zero-emissions, with bus operators and industry able to provide feedback. This new phase now gives regional operators to explore in detail the local challenges of transitioning to a more sustainable bus fleet.
This move comes ahead of 2025, when the state government will only purchase zero-emissions buses for its public transport fleet as it aims to achieve net zero-emissions by 2045.
The final transition plan will set out Victoria’s proposed approach to moving to a zero-emissions fleet, including how the government will support Victoria’s bus operators to prepare for and manage the transition.
Victoria has already embarked on a $20 million Zero Emissions Bus (ZEB) trial providing important first hand insights to inform the smooth transition of almost 4,500 diesel buses, including 2,000 in regional Victoria to zero-emissions.
The three-year trial sees six operators across Victoria introducing 52 zero emission buses into their fleets – 50 electric and two hydrogen – across Melbourne, Traralgon and Seymour.
The state government says lessons from the ZEB trials are providing practical information such as depot charging needs and capacity, infrastructure and energy network requirements, environmental outcomes, customer expectations and commercial arrangements.
The trial is also fostering vital local industry partnerships and supporting local jobs – such as with energy providers and bus manufacturers – that will be needed to achieve an effective transition.