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Auckland Transport

On board for Auckland-wide electric buses: Vector and AT sign MoU

Auckland’s 1360-strong bus fleet is one step closer to becoming fully electrified after Auckland Transport (AT) and Vector announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to explore the impacts of a full implementation.

Commencing immediately, Vector and AT will carry out a feasibility study to assess the impact of a fully electric bus fleet on the Auckland electricity network, and to identify opportunities where innovative energy technologies could be used to assist the transition and help avoid large network upgrade costs.

The MoU is a direct response to AT’s Low Emission Bus Roadmap (PDF 3.4MB), published in late 2018, that outlined its commitment to have all new buses in Auckland being electric from 2025, with the whole fleet fully electric by 2040.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff says electrifying Auckland’s bus fleet will be an important part of the city’s response to climate change. “Electrifying the bus fleet would stop around 70,000 tonnes of C02 from entering the atmosphere every year and address the problem of pollution from black carbon, which is at high levels in areas such as the city centre,” he says.

“In 2018 I committed Auckland to ensuring that all replacement buses purchased from 2025 would be non-carbon emitting. Bringing forward that date would be even better and would be possible if the government was to extend to public transport vehicles an incentive scheme similar to its feebate for private electric cars.

“Vehicle emissions represent well over 40% of Auckland’s carbon emissions and electrifying our bus fleet as well as encouraging a shift from cars to public transport is critical to achieving our climate change goals,” Phil Goff says.

AT currently operates 3 electric buses, and is supporting the electrification of the bus fleet on Waiheke Island, with 6 electric buses due to arrive this year, and more new services being negotiated to start from 2021.

AT’s Bus Services Manager, Darek Koper says a faster transition to electric buses requires a detailed assessment of the future demand on the electricity network.

“Auckland Transport is assessing options to accelerate the Low Emission Bus Roadmap and is looking at zero emission alternatives to buying new diesel buses.

“We’re excited to be working with Vector assessing what electricity requirements are needed for a large fleet of electric buses. This study will also help to understand what investment is needed in our electricity network to support full transition to a zero-emissions bus fleet.”

Vector is already involved with several initiatives supporting the electrification of the transport sector, including residential electric vehicle (EV) smart charging and vehicle-to-home trials (using EVs to power homes), charging infrastructure projects in collaboration with the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA), and also maintains 29 public EV chargers across the city.

“We are focused on supporting our city as it transitions to electrified transport,” says Vector’s Group Chief Executive, Simon Mackenzie. “This collaboration between our Vector PowerSmart team and Auckland Transport will enable us to proactively plan a way forward to enable the electrification of Auckland’s bus fleet, and to help them think innovatively about new energy technologies and solutions that get the job done without placing unnecessary cost burdens on customers.”

Two reports will be produced as part of the MoU, the first exploring a route and service profile, which will model the electricity demand that a fully electrified bus fleet will require. The second report will provide guidance on the electricity network infrastructure upgrades required at each bus depot, as well as likely timings and costs. These 2 reports are expected to be delivered by June 2020.

Buses make up 87% of the carbon emissions produced from public transport, so converting them from diesel to electric will also be a significant step towards meeting New Zealand’s 2050 zero-carbon emissions goal.