13/08/2021 | John Gardner MP | Corey Wingard MP | Carolyn Power MP | Better Services

Year 7 students transitioning into public high schools from next year will benefit from a new fleet of hybrid electric buses to help get them there.

South Australia’s public transport system is taking another step towards becoming greener and more energy efficient, with hybrid energy technologies being adopted for 17 new Adelaide Metro buses and more than half of the existing fleet of diesel trains.

Forty five of the state’s 70 diesel rail cars will be upgraded with hybrid energy storage and recovery systems as part of a $10 million 2021-22 State Budget initiative aimed at reducing the fleet’s fuel consumption, noise, vibration and diesel emissions.

The Marshall Liberal Government’s order of 20 new buses valued at $12 million, including 17 new hybrid electric buses and three new articulated diesel buses, will be supplied by contractor Scania Australia, and bodied locally by South Australian business Bustech.

The order forms part of the government’s commitment for new and expanded bus services to cater for an expected increase in demand from secondary school students next year, when Year 7 transitions into public high schools.

Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Corey Wingard, said the hybrid vehicles were an important step toward a greener public transport system.

“The Marshall Liberal Government is committed to providing an efficient, effective and greener public transport system,” Minister Wingard said.

“We also want to provide the next generation of school students with a cleaner and greener public transport experience, especially as Year 7 transitions into public high schools from next year.

“Scania’s hybrid-electric buses can reduce emissions by up to 92 per cent, especially when stopping to pick-up or set-down school students or when travelling in silent mode on battery power.

“As an added bonus, our adoption of the Scania Hybrid for the Adelaide Metro fleet is also creating jobs for South Australians as it has led to an increase in the number of employees at Bustech dedicated to bus body building.”

Minister for Education, John Gardner, said the new fleet of hybrid electric buses will help cater for the increased commuter demand at public high schools.

“Next year South Australian Year 7 students will finally benefit from moving to high school - where they will access the specialist subject teachers and learning environments that the National Year 7 curriculum is designed for,” Minister Gardner said.

“It’s fantastic that students making the journey into high school next year will have these new greener, energy efficient buses to help them on their way.

“It’s an exciting time for public education in our state and this is yet another milestone in the transition of Year 7 into high school – a move that will bring us in line with the rest of the nation and help drive our students to be the best they can be for South Australia’s future.”

The first three of the new hybrid buses have already rolled off the production line and are now in service.

The remainder of the 20 buses, including the articulated vehicles, are expected to be built by December 2021 and in service with Adelaide Metro in time for the commencement of Term 1 2022.

Member for Elder, Carolyn Power, said young people are increasingly interested in reducing their environmental footprint and living more sustainably.

“Our delivery of hybrid electric public transport options for school students demonstrates our commitment to joining them on this journey and working towards a greener future,” Ms Power said.

Minister Wingard said the hybrid energy systems fitted to our diesel trains will enable excess energy to be recovered while the train is braking, to be stored in batteries for later use.

“This will improve reliability and reduce operating costs, while also resulting in a cleaner, more attractive service to passengers by eliminating diesel fumes when the trains are sitting undercover in Adelaide Railway Station,” Minister Wingard said.

“Fuel costs will be reduced by up to 20 per cent, with better fuel efficiency resulting in savings in the order of $1.3 million per year. Operational costs are expected to be reduced by $4 million over the remaining service life of the fleet.”

The Department for Infrastructure and Transport owns and manages a fleet of 70 diesel railcars and 22 three-car electric multiple unit (EMU) trains (consisting of 66 railcars).

A further 12 EMUs (consisting of 36 railcars) are currently in production to enable fully electric operations on all the Seaford, Tonsley and Gawler Lines.

These 12 new EMUs will be introduced into service on the Gawler line progressively from early 2022.

Future network improvements will include exploring the use of hydrogen, electric and hybrid engines.