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Metro Battery Electric Bus Trial Launched in Launceston

Media Release

25 January 2024

Metro Battery Electric Bus Trial Launched in Launceston

Tasmanian public transport took an important step towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions today with the commencement of battery electric buses (BEB) travelling on Launceston’s streets for a two-year trial on Metro bus routes.

The bus uses an electric motor rather than an internal combustion engine with the energy coming from on-board batteries which are charged with renewable energy from Tasmanian’s power grid overnight.

Metro Chief Executive Officer Katie Cooper said the trial will provide valuable information and experience to inform the longer-term transition of Metro’s fleet to zero emission buses.

“The BEB Trial will consist of four Custom Denning ‘Element 2’ model buses operating across the full range of existing Metro routes in Launceston over a two year period,” Ms Cooper said.

“Tasmania is one of the few places in the world to be 100% self-sufficient in renewable electricity. We can use this emissions-free electricity to power a BEB by charging its batteries.

“This trial will provide Metro with critical operational experience and information to inform the potential longer-term transition of Metro’s fleet to zero emission buses.”

While the vehicle looks similar to a diesel bus, it is much quieter on the road. The BEBs make an artificial sound when travelling at low speeds around bus stops and shopping areas to alert pedestrians.

The analysis of the trial also includes receiving feedback from community stakeholders as well as customers and the public.

Launceston based electrical and control system engineering firm Cromarty were selected to install Tasmania’s first electric vehicle (EV) bus chargers.

Cromarty Managing Director Richard Grant said, as a proud Tasmanian business with a track record in major industrial and renewable energy solutions across Australia, they are pleased to take on the challenge of delivering Tasmania’s first EV bus chargers in our hometown.

“Collaborating with Custom Denning and Metro, we see this initiative as a significant step towards enhancing the liveability and sustainability of our community,” Mr Grant said.

Custom Denning’s National Relationship Manager Mick Neskes said the purchase of the Australian made and certified Element 2 buses is a testament to the commitment of Metro Tasmania and the Tasmanian Government to innovation and sustainability.

“Together we are making significant strides towards reducing carbon emissions and paving the way for a cleaner, greener future, while providing passenger transport that is quiet, comfortable and safe,” Mr Neskes said.

“Being a part of this transformative journey fills us with immense pride, in what will be an important part of Tasmania’s public transport future.”

Metro is also trialling hydrogen powered electric buses in Hobart, commencing mid-2024.

Assessing both technologies will allow Metro to evaluate each technology against Tasmania’s unique environment factors, as well as how well they cater to customer needs.

The Tasmanian Government is providing $6 million to Metro to conduct the BEB trial, with funding allocated in the 2020-21 State Budget. This funding is being used for the purchase, installation, operation and maintenance of the four BEBs and associated battery chargers, and for comprehensive analysis of the trial. Funding of up to $11.3 million is also being provided to Metro by the Tasmanian Government, under the Tasmanian Renewable Hydrogen Industry Development Fund, to conduct the hydrogen powered Fuel Cell Electric Bus (FCEB) Trial.