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Seymour electric bus fleet among the first in Victoria

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Grace Frost
Grace Frost
Hi, I'm Grace Frost. I was honoured to report for the Review as their Digital Journalist from mid-2022 to the beginning of 2024. Ive since made a move to the Herald Sun.

Seymour is the first in regional Victoria to have an entirely zero-emission bus network, with all buses servicing the town’s five routes now electric.

From 2025, all new buses added to Victoria’s public transport routes will have zero emissions as the state transitions about 4500 diesel buses in the public fleet – including about 2200 in regional Victoria – to greener technology.

Minister for Public Transport Ben Carroll said Seymour was leading the way in Victoria, with cleaner and more sustainable transport options.

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The greener fleet forms part of Victoria’s Bus Plan, which aims to develop a modern and reliable network and attract more passengers.

The new greener buses are part of the State Government’s goal of net zero emissions by 2045.

Seymour Passenger Services rolled out its first zero-emission bus in January and is one of six operators across Victoria taking part in the State Government’s $20 million Zero Emission Bus, ZEB, trial.

The trial includes 52 zero-emission buses – 50 electric and two hydrogen – across Melbourne, Traralgon and Seymour.

The trial is set to help inform the transition to zero emissions with data on how zero-emission buses perform, the energy and charging requirements for different types of services, how the buses can improve financial and environmental sustainability and ways to foster vital local industry partnerships.

The government has also completed a public consultation on the zero-emission bus transition, which will inform the approach and sequencing of the statewide transition.

Concerns

Member for Euroa Annabelle Cleeland raised concerns the rollout ‘completely failed to consider the impacts to regional operators’.

“Rural operators do not have the same opportunity to charge electric buses as their city counterparts,” she said.

“Many of the buses are parked at the driver’s home, or a similar arrangement, which limits the opportunity to charge the buses.”

Ms Cleeland said the implementation of a zero-emission network by 2025 without the consideration of rural operators ‘may simply not be achievable’.

Benalla Bus Lines manager Travis Mee echoed her concerns.

“The State Government has no idea what goes into running a school bus network in the country – it is just pure ignorance,” Mr Mee said.

“There’s been no consultation, no contact, no communication.”

The Benalla fleet is not stored in a central place where they all can charge overnight.

“We try and have the buses stay on the route,” Mr Mee said.

“We send drivers out in cars to the busses, which is much more energy efficient.”

Mr Mee also said it took two years to receive a bus after ordering, questioning the government’s ‘impossible’ deadline.

Shadow Minister for Roads and Road Safety Danny O’Brien asked Mr Carroll in Parliament last month to ensure regional bus operators were able to continue to offer a reliable service during the phase-in of zero-emission vehicles.

“I am seeking flexibility from the Minister to ensure that rural bus operators are not forced to attempt to implement this policy before these clear obstacles are adequately addressed,” he said.

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