The NSW government has committed to electrifying Sydney’s ‘ageing’ diesel bus fleet

(Photo by: Jeff Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
  • New South Wales transport minister Andrew Constance announced plans to replace Sydney’s “ageing” fleet of diesel buses with electric buses.
  • The electric buses are set to reduce air and noise pollution in the city.
  • Constance also announced the launch of two new driverless shuttles in Sydney Olympic Park.

Electric buses are on the way for Sydney.

New South Wales transport minister Andrew Constance has announced a reform that will see Sydney’s “ageing diesel bus fleet” electrified.

“Making the switch to an entirely electric bus fleet will deliver huge benefits to the community in terms of reducing air and noise pollution, as well as our incredible drivers,” Constance said in a statement.

“As part of this process, we will challenge the industry to begin an ambitious transformation of our bus fleet from particulate emitting diesel to zero-emission buses.”

Constance further mentioned European cities that have been able to transition to zero-emission buses, with Sydney set to be one of the next cities to do it too.

“Zero-emission buses are becoming the standard with the significant environmental, health and operational cost benefits being experienced now in cities like London, Paris and Amsterdam,” he said.

“As a truly global city Sydney deserves the same.”

New South Wales isn’t the only state to go all in on electric buses. In September, the Australian Capital Territory released the results of its 12 month trial of electric buses, part of its broader goal to switch to zero-emissions vehicles.

ACT transport minister Chris Steel said the trial showed that zero-emissions vehicles “are a viable alternative for Canberra’s public transport network going forward.”

From electric to automated vehicles

On Monday, Constance launched a new driverless smart shuttle service at Sydney Olympic Park. They are the first vehicles in Australia to interact autonomously with live traffic conditions.

“We now have two smart shuttles ‘talking’ to the conditions and infrastructure around them,” Constance said in a statement.

“Customers can get on board and test ride these buses over the next six months to help us gain insights into how autonomous vehicles can improve services and how this technology will shape our future transport.”

The smart vehicles will communicate autonomously with live traffic signals as they work their way across intersections. They will be used to connect passengers to Olympic Park Station, restaurants and carparks. All you need to do is hop on, with the bus arriving every 10 to 15 minutes on weekdays.

“This new stage is important to help us understand how autonomous vehicles can connect to our infrastructure, like traffic lights and digital bus stops,” Constance said.

Constance said the smart shuttles are one example of the state’s automated vehicle program – the biggest in the country. The New South Wales government’s five year Connected and Automated Vehicles Plan includes building infrastructure to support automated vehicles and implementing nationally consistent regulation that makes sure automated vehicles can operate on roads.

In June 2018, the New South Wales government also announced a $10 million fund to expand trials of driverless vehicles.

It looks like the future of transport in Sydney is both electric and autonomous.