E-bus to ply public route in trial lasting six months

Commuters can hop on Go-Ahead vehicle when put on one of new operator's services

An electric bus will be tested out for the first time in Singapore on a public route, in a pilot which could see more of such green vehicles being used for mass transport.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) revealed to The Straits Times yesterday that it is working with Shenzhen-based automaker BYD and bus operator Go-Ahead Singapore on a six-month trial to assess the suitability of e-buses for public transport.

The single bus to be used in the trial is a single-deck K9 model from BYD (Build Your Dreams) which can carry a total of 80 passengers. Commuters can hop on this bus on one of the services that will be operated by Go-Ahead Singapore, the LTA said.

While the British-based firm is set to kick off operations next month, the launch date and route which the e-bus will ply are still being worked out.

An LTA spokesman also said: "The electric bus will operate trips on top of those scheduled, and hence there will not be any adverse impact on service levels."

A photograph of the BYD K9 electric bus that will be used by Go-Ahead Singapore, as seen on the (buses[IN]gapore!) Facebook site, a page devoted to buses in Singapore.

Go-Ahead Singapore, which won a government bus tender last November, will run 25 bus routes in the Pasir Ris and Punggol areas.

The LTA said that BYD will implement the necessary charging infrastructure at Go-Ahead's depot in Loyang to support the e-bus operation. According to sources, the K9 to be used will require between five and 10 hours to be charged fully, allowing it to run for 250km.

The K9 bus is supplied by BYD Singapore and its local distributor S Dreams, which are working to promote electric vehicles (EV) here.

The e-bus trial is part of the EV test bed led by LTA and the Economic Development Board to trial fleet-based EV operations, a follow-up to the earlier phase which ended three years ago and involved individual corporate users.

Also being tested is an e-taxi pilot that will launch next month, and a nationwide electric car-sharing programme that will be rolled out next year, and will grow to 1,000 cars by 2020.

Cities such as Paris and Chicago have been progressively incorporating e-buses into their fleets. Transport for London, the city's transport authority, has committed to ensuring all 300 single-deck buses in central London are zero emission by 2020.

Professor Subodh Mhaisalkar, executive director of Nanyang Technological University's Energy Research Institute, said: "Electric buses are the way to go to reduce CO2 emissions. Residents living near bus stops will also appreciate e-buses as they do not have emissions and are quiet."

But he said that Singapore's warm climate could present a challenge. "Besides being used for driving, the battery charge of the electric bus will also have to support the air-conditioning, and this could limit the range," he added.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 06, 2016, with the headline E-bus to ply public route in trial lasting six months. Subscribe