In the coming months, selected buses along seven CBD routes will no longer emit dangerous fumes, as the state government confirmed details of their zero- and low-emission buses.
In a move to improve air quality in the Hoddle Grid, 12 electric buses will be deployed along seven routes starting and ending in the CBD.
The move is an initial act as part of a state government promise to supply 36 electric buses by mid-2025.
Most transit buses in Melbourne are powered by diesel, whose fumes have been shown to have a negative impact on health, especially in urban environments.
And while the fleet of buses running on the seven routes will not be exclusively electric vehicles, Public Transport Minister Ben Carroll said it was a positive start.
“The introduction of electric buses is a benefit to the environment and also means quieter buses that emit zero emissions in busy zones,” he told CBD News.
The announcement is especially welcome to residents and shoppers on Queen St, with all seven routes traveling along the busy arteries.
But the news is not so welcome for those on Lonsdale St, which has previously been marked as the most problematic bus corridor in the city.
Last year, the city of Melbourne said replacing harmful diesel buses running along Lonsdale St with electric alternatives would be a “significant step” in reducing CBD air pollution.
The council’s submission to a state government study on the health effects of air pollution expressed concern about diesel emissions from public buses, saying Lonsdale St – which saw more than 1,000 bus movements a day operating 16 routes – was an area of particular concern within the Hoddle grid.
Of the electric buses that will run through the CBD, only bus number 216 (Sunshine – CBD) runs along the street.
“The buses run on diesel fuel, the emissions of which are implicated in human cancer, heart and lung damage and undermine mental function,” reads the council’s statement.
“Converting the Lonsdale St bus corridor to zero emissions would be a significant step toward reducing the damage caused by air pollution in the city.”
During peak periods, more than 1,400 people walked on Lonsdale St between Swanston and Russell streets every hour.
In addition to the 12 electric buses, the government has announced that there will also be 34 “hybrid” buses in operation by the end of 2022.
Hybrid buses emit smaller exhaust gases and, in a remarkable development, will have the capacity to be programmed to switch to electric battery mode in designated “geofenced” zones, including outdoor dining areas.
However, these exact zones have not yet been completed and will be determined as the hybrid buses roll out.
The call to replace diesel buses has become more relevant in recent months, especially as some hospitality sites make outdoor dining arrangements permanent as a result of COVID-19, something similarly highlighted in the Council’s 2021 post.
Over the next nine years, 341 electric and hybrid buses will be introduced in the capital city network, including a commitment of five in the first half of 2022.
The promise was part of a $ 2.3 billion contract announced in October between the state government and Melbourne-based company Kinetic to operate a third of the capital’s bus network and take over current operator Transdev.
The routes will include electric buses
- 216: Sunshine – CBD
- 220: Sunshine – CBD
- 232: Altona North – Queen Victoria Market
- 234: Garden City – Queen Victoria Market
- 235: Fishermans Bend – CBD
- 236: Garden City – Queen Victoria Market
- 237: Fisherman’s Bend to the CBD