Media Release: Chris Steel MLA, 21 December 2020

The ACT Government is kick-starting its Zero-Emission Transition Plan for Transport Canberra with a market sounding commencing today for 90 zero-emission battery electric buses as well as associated operating requirements such as charging infrastructure, maintenance and energy supply.

Minister for Transport and City Services, Chris Steel said the ACT Government is exploring opportunities to partner with providers on this transformation of the ACT’s bus fleet and is keen to hear from all parts of industry to inform the future procurement of the 90 battery electric buses in mid-2021.

“Transport is the ACT largest source of emissions, and we are getting on with our plan of replacing every diesel and compressed natural gas bus in Transport Canberra’s fleet with modern, zero-emission buses,” Minister Steel said.

“The ACT Government released the Transport Canberra’s Zero Emissions Transition Plan in September and now we are preparing to procure the first tranche of 90 battery electric buses, with the commencement of a market sounding.”

The first of the 90 buses are expected to commence operation in 2021-22 financial year with the final of the 90 buses to be delivered no later than 2024.

“The ACT Government wants to hear from everyone who would like to be involved in delivering the zero-emissions transition – from bus manufacturers, energy providers, electric bus charging station companies to the broader construction industry,” said Minister Steel.

“This market sounding will inform the design of the final procurement approach to deliver a successful transition based on Transport Canberra’s Zero Emissions Transition Plan and Transport Canberra’s specific operational needs.”

From today, interested parties can register through the Tenders ACT or Transport Canberra websites, so they can keep informed and involved in the upcoming industry briefing process and formal market soundings.

“This process is not just about delivering 90 battery electric buses. We are seeking innovative solutions to how we house and support, charge and maintain the fleet, as well as how we can partner with energy providers that will make the transition successful in the ACT,” said Minister Steel.

“The market sounding is the next step in achieving our target of a zero-emission public transport system by 2040 or earlier, and providing clean, quiet and reliable bus services across Transport Canberra’s Network.”

As part of the Government’s Zero-Emission Transition plan the ACT Government has also announced that a tender will be released in early 2021, to lease 34 replacement buses, in order to retire the remaining orange Renault PR100 series buses, that pre-date emissions standards and are not Disability Discrimination Act compliant.

The tender to replace the 34 buses will encourage approaches from providers of both battery electric and diesel buses that meet Transport Canberra’s short-term operational requirements and the objectives of Transport Canberra’s Zero Emissions Transition Plan.

“The old orange Renault buses have served Canberra well, but their black diesel fumes and outdated and inaccessible design will not be missed,” Minister Steel said.

“The tender for these leased buses will be an open market process, available to all respondents including electric bus providers, to meet our short term operational needs, before our fleet of Transport Canberra electric-buses is operational.”

“When the 34 replacement buses enter service in the second half of 2021, every bus in the Transport Canberra fleet will comply with Disability Discrimination Act standards and be wheelchair and pram accessible,” Minister Steel said.

Registrations for interested parties in the first tranche procurement of 90 electric buses can now be made online on the Tenders ACT website or via the Transport Canberra website.

ACT Bus does not endorse the minister’s opinion that the old orange Renault buses will not be missed.