Electric bus trial to be considered for Joondalup

Edgewater resident Timothy Lawrence, electric vehicle blogger Leo Kerr and Joondalup MLA Emily Hamilton welcome the consideration on an electric bus trial in Joondalup.
Edgewater resident Timothy Lawrence, electric vehicle blogger Leo Kerr and Joondalup MLA Emily Hamilton welcome the consideration on an electric bus trial in Joondalup.

AN electric bus trial will be considered for the Joondalup CAT service.

Joondalup MLA Emily Hamilton welcomed the positive response after she raised the idea in Parliament last month.

It followed meetings with Edgewater residents earlier this year where questions were raised as to why the State Government had renewed a contract for diesel buses when there were “cleaner transport options” with technological advances in vehicle power from other sources.

Ms Hamilton wrote to Transport Minister Rita Saffioti who said the bus supply agreement did include provisions for the introduction of alternative powered vehicles when the technology was suitable for widespread implementation.

Raising the matter again in Parliament, Ms Hamilton asked for consideration of a trial, saying the Joondalup CAT bus routes would be ideal.

“There is capacity at the Joondalup bus station to house a charging station and the CAT bus loops are relatively short in nature, allowing frequent recharge opportunities,” she said.

Ms Saffioti supported the idea and said she and the Public Transport Authority (PTA) had met with the president of the Volvo Bus Corporation to discuss alternative technologies and Volvo’s experience with electric buses in other areas in the world.

“The advice I received was that although this technology is still relatively new, and Perth’s climate presents some unique challenges in terms of power requirements like significant air-conditioning, a trial could be possible,” she said.

Ms Saffioti said she agreed the Joondalup CAT service, which is a short 5km circuit, should be considered as a potential location for an electric bus trial and she would ask the PTA to investigate.

“However, there are a number of factors that will need to be taken into consideration prior to identifying a location for a trial of this kind, including power supply, value for money and reliability of technology in different conditions,” she said.

Electric vehicle blogger Leo Kerr, Edgewater resident Timothy Lawrence and Joondalup MLA Emily Hamilton on a Joondalup CAT bus.

“At this stage we don’t have a timeline for a proposed electric bus trial, or a cost estimate for a wider roll-out if a trial was successful.

“To expand an electric bus fleet would also require upgrades to depot infrastructure for charging stations and other related equipment.”

She said while the PTA’s existing bus operating model was “well placed to successfully incorporate alternative drive vehicles such as electric buses”, a staged approach with trials was “a sensible idea”.

Ms Hamilton said she hoped Joondalup could be “a leader in the metropolitan area for this technology”.

“We do need to look to alternative technologies for our public transport bus fleet in the future and I hope by beginning with a closed circuit we can explore this option further in Joondalup,” she said.

“We all know (electric buses) would benefit our environment and reduce Australia’s rising carbon emissions.”

Edgewater resident Timothy Lawrence said he was pleased to hear the trial was being considered.

“To me, the number one benefit is moving towards energy security both for the transport fleet and our population,” he said.

Ms Hamilton also raised in Parliament the possibility of an additional CAT bus route to service the Winton Road business area.

“This would connect small and medium businesses with residents that are visiting or living in the Joondalup city centre,” she said.

“I understand the CAT bus is jointly funded by the PTA, City of Joondalup and ECU and I look forward to commencing the conversation about how we can extend the service in the future.”

There are currently three CAT buses that operate on weekdays from the Joondalup train and bus station.

The routes include ECU and the student village, the North Metropolitan Tafe Joondalup campus, WA Police Academy, Joondalup Civic Centre, Joondalup Health Campus and the court house.

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