Indicators inside Brisbane’s first ever electric bus are buzzing louder than the tranquillity inside—and travellers are elated. The new bus boasts a captivating purple shade—you can’t fail to spot it. However, it arrives quietly and you’ve got to stay alert with your eyes wide open literally, since it’s almost noiseless.
Our driver was also having his first ride in the new electric bus after taking his two-minute briefing.
Thereafter, he went on to adjust the driver’s seat on E60001 before aligning the mirrors, which are positioned up on the front-side of the Yutong bus which was manufactured in China, but assembled right here in Brisbane.
Embarking on the journey gently on Brisbane’s iconic Adelaide Street, Brisbane’s electric bus driver paused along the slight hill before taking a turn right down the Wharf Street. It proved tough controlling the bus up the hill.
“It’s going to take a while to get used to the way the wheels operate, there’s a bit of delay,” the driver stated cautiously.
“It’s all good. But it’ll just take a bit of time.”
“But jeez, it’s quiet.”
The electric bus had many passengers when I decided to take a 20-minute ride around the city’s CBD, with about 20 or so passengers happily hopping on and off at stops situated at different locations within the City Loop Link.
Four electric buses are expected in the first week of July and will run across the City Loop—Adelaide Street, Wharf Street, Eagle Street, Margaret Street before making a quick turn down to Alice Street and along the Botanic Gardens, then a final turn right up George Street and another left turn into Adelaide Street.
The bus has its signs printed in Braille and in English. In addition the bus features several USB power slots besides being air-conditioned.
There’s an electric display right up behind the driver that provides info on the stops ahead and how long it would take to get there.
The electric bus is designed in such a way that it can talk to passengers.
“One minute to 146 Margaret Street,” it told me at one point, before announcing “three minutes to the Botanic Gardens Riverwalk”.
And when it came to Wharf Street, the name was pronounced as “Woff Street”. The bus is currently free.
At some point I thought the bus could be ideal for city tourists, enabling them to find their bearings in Brisbane.
It’s commonplace to see tourists donning headsets to get a quick tour over a city’s history, while hopping on and off free buses available in various cities across Europe and North America.
Of course, it wouldn’t take much putting together a short history piece about our First Nations people—the Turrbul and Jagera, then a quick history of Europeans living in our city.
As a matter of fact, the route used by the bus lands you beyond Parliament, and down George Street, past the old Queensland Government Printing Office, with a quick trek all the way to Queen’s Wharf Road before landing at the Commissariat Store, one of Brisbane City’s oldest buildings.
Considering that Brisbane’s newly opened Star casino and the resort complex along George Street will be near completion by the end of 2022, the City Loop is set to become popular among tourists coming to the city in the next two years.
Two routes exist: the City Loop 5 runs via nine stops and the City Loop 40 electric bus running clockwise via 11 stops.
After a 20-minute drive, we arrive back in Adelaide Street at one of the stops situated outside Officeworks.
“Quiet, isn’t it? Very quiet indeed,” a woman seated behind me whispered.
“Those mirrors are going to get knocked off up there,” the driver said, gesturing at the high-set mirrors.
“But it seems OK. We’ll see.”
Meanwhile, last week saw Labor and LNP councillors get busy at jousting in council chambers over the City’s electric bus and the Brisbane Metro mega-buses which is set for completion in China and Europe after the tenders were first announced in 2018.
One of the best things about electric buses is that they generate zero carbon emissions hence the 60 electric Brisbane Metro megabuses currently in the pipeline will do just the same—emit zero emissions, though the electricity used to power them is majorly generated from coal.
This is one remarkable fact that emerged during Tuesday’s council debate with regards to powering Metro vehicles and electric buses, plunging the matter into perspective.
Brisbane City Council recently purchased over 1 million megawatt-hours of energy generated from different renewable energy sources.
“And since 2017, Brisbane’s carbon footprint has reduced by 7 per cent,” according to Tracy Davis, the council’s environment committee spokeswoman.
Image source: International Airport Review