Beginning today, an electric bus will be tested on Dunedin’s public transportation network.
The GBV Enviroline 35-seater electric bus is ultimately destined for Christchurch, but it will be running up and down Dunedin’s hills for the next month.
The government has mandated that all fossil-fuelled buses be phased out by 2035.
Otago Regional Councillor Alexa Forbes said she wanted to get more people on buses while also making them a cleaner option, and the e-bus trial was a good place to start.
“I think it’s 47 percent of our carbon emissions in Otago are as a result of transport, so that figure needs to come down and one of the greatest ways of bringing that figure down is getting people out of their private cars,” she said.
Ensuring the public transport fleet was running on sustainable and renewable sources would be another great contributor to reducing emissions, Forbes said.
Electric buses were already being used in Auckland and Christchurch, but Dunedin’s hills presented another chance to show off their capability.
GBV executive vice president Mike Parker said the hills would be no problem for the Enviroline.
“I think people are going to be amazed how well it does perform,” he said.
“Electric drive systems have a lot more torque than diesel buses, so when it comes to climbing up hills they’re actually superior. And then you get all that regenerative energy braking coming back down again, so it makes it far more efficient.”
The Enviroline was manufactured in Christchurch and actually charged itself when going downhill.
The e-buses also had an incredibly high range.
“It’s going to do well over 300 kilometres [per charge in Dunedin], we suspect,” Parker said.
“With the normal recharger it’s about four hours to charge it up again and then it’s ready for the next day.”
Peter Dowden, who got to drive the Enviroline on its inaugural journey around Dunedin, said the lack of a combustion engine made it more pleasant for the driver.
“It’s an absolute honey to drive – especially starting off, it’s extremely smooth.
“Also the lack of vibration when you’re waiting at a bus stop – it just removes that fatigue – and the clatter of the noise, which makes it harder to converse with the passengers.”
It even had a bell to alert pedestrians – due to the lack of noise its motors produced – which reminded Dowden of his time driving trams in Australia 30 years ago.