While states and territories around Australia are on the route to zero-emission transport success, Western Australia is lagging behind.
As part of their Zero-Emission Transition Plan, the ACT government has just announced that electric vehicles will replace 90 gas and diesel buses in the next four years if they are re-elected. This announcement was prompted by the ongoing success of all-electric bus trials in Canberra over the past three years.
The ACT is not alone in their progress towards zero-emission transport. In 2019, the NSW government revealed their proposal to replace 8000 Sydney buses with electric vehicles by 2050. The Brisbane City Council also announced their initiative to introduce 60 electric buses to the Brisbane Metro fleet by 2023. On a global scale, China accounts for more than 90% of the nearly half a million electric buses functioning around the world; and Athens, Madrid, Mexico City and Paris have pledged to achieve a ban of diesel buses from city centres by 2025.
So where is Western Australia’s drive to introduce zero-carbon transport?
In July, the West Australian government unveiled their plan to trial four all-electric buses in 2022. Despite being a welcome, long overdue development, it is overshadowed by the $549 million deal with Volvo to introduce 900 new diesel buses to our West Australian roads.
With an estimated cost of $1 million per electric vehicle, there is immense potential to accelerate WA’s transition to an all-electric bus fleet through immediate deal renegotiation.
“We don’t need an electric bus trial, we need an implementation plan” –Clean State’s director of research and policy, Chantal Caruso.
Clean State’s extensive plan to create 200,000 new jobs through 26 projects includes the introduction of a WA-made electric bus fleet by 2025. State Secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, Steve McCartney, endorsed this plan, believing that the new electric buses are “State infrastructure and State infrastructure should be built by Western Australians”.
The transition to WA-made electric buses has significant potential to reduce the transport sectors carbon footprint, which currently accounts for 18.9 per cent of Australia’s emissions. It is estimated that Transperth buses travelled 84 million kilometers in 2018/19, resulting in annual emissions of 109,200 tonnes. Thus, the transition to an all-electric Transperth bus fleet could reduce WA’s annual emissions by more than 100,000 tonnes.
Alongside these environmental benefits, Clean State’s initiative would save West Australia around $40 million every year in the fuel bills currently generated by WA’s 1,138 diesel buses and 512 gas buses. Additionally, the operating costs of electric buses are up to 12 per cent less over their lifetime than diesel and gas buses.
Zero emissions means that electric buses are cleaner, reducing neighbourhood air pollution. Vehicles emit pollutants that are detrimental to not only the environment, but to human health. Carbon monoxide, particulate matter, hydrocarbons, and nitrogen and sulphur oxides all pollute the air and result in dangerous health impacts for Australians, including cancer, cardiovascular disease and respiratory issues.
Additional to reduced air pollution, electric buses considerably reduce noise pollution, demonstrating that they have the potential to provide considerable social benefits alongside the economic and environmental advantages.
120 New Jobs
The commitment to WA-made all-electric vehicles would continue to support the 240 existing jobs in the industry, while generating a further 100 at the Volgren bus plant in Malaga, and an additional 20 jobs in the Public Transport Authority.
“We support electric buses replacing diesel buses for a lower carbon future, and we believe we have the skills and abilities to build them here and to create industry and apprenticeships” – State Secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, Steve McCartney.
It is time for West Australia to accelerate the zero-carbon transport sector for the benefit of our society, economy and environment.