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New bus deal to support Victoria’s zero emission future

TAS GOV to conduct zero emission bus trials
Skybus operator Kinetic has been contracted by the Victorian Government to supply 341 electric and hybrid buses for Melbourne. Image: Shutterstock.

Melbourne based company Kinetic, which operates the SkyBus fleet, has received backing from the Victorian Government to operate a third of the metropolitan area’s bus network.

Kinetic has been awarded a $2.3 billion contract for its Metropolitan Bus Franchise from 31 January 2022 until June 2031, replacing Transdev as the current franchise holder.

As part of the deal, Kinetic company will introduce 36 fully electric buses into the network by mid-2025, including five by June next year.

A total of 341, or more than half of the 537 buses in the franchise, will be replaced with low or zero emission vehicles over the term of the franchise.

The new fleet will be manufactured at Volgren’s Dandenong South facility, providing jobs and support for the local economy.

Victoria’s Public Transport Minister Ben Carroll said the rollout would support the state’s infrastructure sustainability targets.

“The roll out of 36 electric buses early on in this partnership will accelerate our pledge for all new buses from 2025 to be zero emissions and, importantly, will contribute to the learnings of the three-year Zero Emissions Bus Project,” he said.

A minimum fleet target of 60 per cent local content will apply to the electric and hybrid buses, and Kinetic will also deliver on a local content target of 90 per cent for operations such as fuel and uniforms.

Co-CEO Kinetic Adam Begg said the partnership with the Victorian Government was an opportunity to utilise zero emission technology.

“We understand the incredible influence bus networks have on the livelihoods of communities and we’re fully supportive of delivering a world-class transport network that supports opportunity, inclusion, growth and community connections for generations to come,” he said.

Key workers at Transdev, including about 1,100 bus drivers who currently operate the franchise, will be offered employment with Kinetic, and buses and six bus depots will transfer over on 31 January next year.

Melbourne-based Kinetic bought SkyBus in 2014 and now operates urban, regional, school and airport bus services across Australia and New Zealand. Kinetic now operates 52 bus contracts and 3,000 buses that move more than 50 million passengers a year.

In a first for a bus contract in Victoria, Kinetic has targets to increase the recruitment of women and priority job seekers such as long-term unemployed and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and to increase spend with Aboriginal businesses and disability enterprises.

Learnings from the early introduction of electric buses will add to the findings of the state government’s three-year, $20 million Zero Emissions Bus Project which will start early next year.

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