Media Release: Chris Steel MLA, 3 June 2021

The ACT Government is kicking off the transition to zero emissions public transport with the release of a tender for leasing the territory’s first electric buses.

This will see the highest emitting Renault buses retired from the fleet as an important first step towards cutting emissions from public transport.

The leasing arrangement will cover a total of 34 buses and procurement will be assessed based on providers’ ability to deliver buses with enhanced accessibility, lower emissions operations, and associated charging infrastructure.

The procurement will see an initial eight zero emission buses added to the fleet as a minimum, with the opportunity for industry to offer more depending on market capacity.

Minister for Transport and City Services Chris Steel said the procurement is an important step forward in the transition towards zero emissions public transport, ahead of the Government’s permanent procurement of 90 zero emissions buses which is currently at the market sounding stage.

“These leasing arrangements will ensure we are able to retire the oldest diesel clunkers from our fleet as soon as possible and get on with rolling out smoother, quieter and more comfortable zero emissions buses,” Minister Steel said.

“We recognise that the ACT Government has to take action to cut our own transport emissions alongside working to help Canberrans cut those from the private vehicle fleet.

“This is a transition we want to make as rapidly as possible in light of evolving technology and a growing number of suppliers in the market.”

The procurement is being released as three packages so that industry can offer innovative solutions which incorporate both buses and charging infrastructure.

“Industry may wish to bid for one, two or all three of the packages depending on their interest and organisational capabilities,” Minister Steel said.

“We’re also encouraging industry to develop consortia so we can implement a holistic solution that includes the necessary supporting infrastructure like charging.

“By leasing these buses we can meet the operational needs of our public transport network without purchasing more diesel buses that would remain in the fleet for another 20 years.

“This is an example of the strategic approach we are taking to driving a rapid transition to zero emissions public transport.

“Replacing the old buses will also mean that every ACT Government bus and light rail service will be accessible for Canberrans using a wheelchair or travelling with prams which is a great boost for access and equity on our public transport network.”

The new buses are expected to join the Transport Canberra fleet in late 2021 subject to the procurement process.

In parallel with this procurement, the Government is currently undertaking formal market sounding to deliver on the election commitment to purchase 90 battery electric buses and supporting infrastructure, training and skills development.

There has been a high level of interest in this process, with over 100 industry representatives participating to date. Through this process the ACT Government will identify right mix of solutions to successfully transition more of our fleet to zero emissions.

It is intended the formal procurement for the 90 buses will commence in the third quarter of 2021 with the first of these vehicles to arrive in 2021-22. The final vehicles will be supplied by 2024.