Major rural bus service operator, Busways  has started a trial of a battery electric bus in the Coffs Harbour region of NSW, where the company also ran an autonomous bus trial in 2019.

The three week trial in Coffs Harbour will see Busways trial a Yutong E12 along a variety of school and route services.

The Busways electric bus trial is aimed at testing the bus and the required charging technology in a regional area and is the first electric bus to be run on  scheduled routes in Coffs.

The Yutong E12 boasts a 374kW/h battery  that Busways says will give it a range of up to approximately 400km on a single charge, while Busways says that passengers will benefit from a smoother, quieter and cleaner ride  as a result of the electric drivetrain. The Yutong E12 Series features regenerative braking, extending the bus’s range, and boasts a three hour fast charging capability.

The bus is also  equipped with a wheelchair ramp and dual wheelchair areas with back stop for passenger safety in its ultra-low-floor design.

“Electric buses are our future and we’re pleased to be trialling the first electric bus on the north coast,” Busways’ managing director Byron Rowe said.

“There’s a lot to do to reach a fully electric fleet such as innovative policy making, joint planning, infrastructure requirements, and industry engagement, such as trials like this one.”

Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole said the NSW government was committed to transitioning to a zero-emissions bus fleet as part of its strategy to make public transport more sustainable.

“The launch of this trial is exciting because its outcomes will help shape how we move in and around regions into the future,” Paul Toole said.

“Trials like these help us learn more about what fit electric buses could have in the regions, particularly where longer distance routes are more common than in metro areas, as well as how to factor in charging times.

“Feedback from operators like Busways on their experience is critical to landing the right technological solutions for the regions,” he explained.

Member for Coffs Harbour Gurmesh Singh said it was exciting to see Coffs as a key testing ground for new technology.

“Only last July, Coffs Harbour was one of just three regional centres in the state to trial new technology that real-time tracked the arrival of a bus, so to now be trialling the first electric bus on the North Coast is just another exciting initiative for our city,” Mr Singh said.

“We’re going to see the electric bus operate on several different routes and school services Monday to Friday, providing many Busways drivers with important electric bus education.

“The trial will also help inform us of the environmental and financial benefits of electric buses, as well as validate asset maintenance requirements and staff training needed to carry an electric fleet in the years to come.”