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Posts from the ‘Sustainable Transport’ Category

Newcastle light-rail service in Australia begins operations

Railway technology, 20 February 20, 2019

The Newcastle light-rail service in the Australian state of New South Wales has started commercial operations.
The service is being operated by Keolis’ Australian subsidiary Keolis Downer on behalf of Transport for New South Wales.

Comprising six stations, the 2.7km-long tram network runs between Wickham and Pacific Park.
The service, which commenced a month ahead of schedule, will offer connectivity with the existing bus and ferry services.

Additionally, the line is catenary-free, involving no overhead wire installations across the route.

Before launching the light-rail service, Keolis Downer trained 14 drivers over four months in the testing phase to ensure smooth operations.

Six CAF-built trams exhibiting a fully accessible low floor design will run on the light-rail network. Each vehicle is designed to accommodate up to 270 passengers.

In December 2016, Keolis Downer received a multimodal transport contract in Newcastle. The scope of the contract included operations and maintenance of the entire transport network comprising light-rail, buses and ferries for ten years. Keolis Downer started operating the bus and ferry services from July 2017.

Keolis Group International CEO Bernard Tabary said: “We redesigned the bus and ferry network with efficient interchange hubs for light rail to encourage more people to use public transport.
“Thanks to light-rail, Newcastle’s transport network is truly multimodal and will make residents’ and visitors’ lives easier and the city even more enjoyable.”

Located north of Sydney, Newcastle has more than 360,000 residents.

Keolis is responsible for 25 tram networks across the world, including three networks that are to be launched soon.

Newcastle light-rail service in Australia begins operations

‘What about the plug?’ Australia’s electric car infrastructure stalled by policy paralysis

The Guardian, 4 February 2019

Why has it taken so long just to move past the bare minimum needed to support what is now an expanding sector?

Most electric car owners will charge at home or at work but one in three will still be reliant on public charging stations. Last September, Sylvia Wilson became the second person in the country to drive around Australia in an electric car. The entire 20,396 kilometre trip took the 70-year-old 110 days in her Tesla S75 and cost just $150.90.

Her success served as an answer to critics who have long argued “range anxiety” – the worry about whether an electric car’s battery will die out of reach of a charging station – is a factor stopping more people buying electric cars. “The reality is that if you can see the lights on or that the kettle works, then you can charge. Even in the remotest places, you can still charge the car. In a way there are more places to charge an EV [electric vehicle] than there are a fossil-fuel car,” Wilson told Guardian Australia at the time.

While Wilson showed what’s possible with existing infrastructure, industry insiders and engineers have been left wondering why it’s taken so long for Australia just to move past the bare minimum needed to support an expanding electric car sector.

Behyad Jafari, chief executive of the Electric Vehicle Council, says the failure to so far provide this infrastructure – from charging stations and uniform standards for components, to the tools needed to maintain each vehicle – is a symptom of political paralysis that has taken hold in Canberra. “Let’s be clear here, these aren’t electric vehicle problems, they’re Australian policy problems,” says Jafari. “In the absence of that, companies are left wondering, well what the hell do we do?”

According to modelling commissioned by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, most electric car owners will charge at home or at their place of work but roughly one in three will still be reliant on public charging stations. With just 783 charging stations around the country in 2018, compared with 6,400 petrol stations, building the infrastructure to support the widespread take-up of electric vehicles will cost $1.7bn.

Tim Washington is a director of Jetcharge and a cofounder of Chargefox, one of the biggest companies in Australia which supplies and installs charging stations across the country.

Washington says most of the infrastructure needed to support the mass uptake of electric cars is already in place, because most people living in a city only drive up to 30 kilometres a day. “Public charging stations are a visual signal to the public that you are now able to charge the car. People are very used to seeing petrol stations and they have confidence in buying a petrol car because they have a petrol station,” says Washington. “People immediately think service station-style charging stations. That’s just not the case. A lot of the charging infrastructure is invisible infrastructure. It’s not apparent to the public eye to where the vast majority of charging stations are. “They’re in homes, in basements, in commercial building car parks, in public car parks – in all the places where you don’t see a traditional fuel source – and that’s all that required for a healthy uptake of electric vehicles.”

The problem for companies like his, Washington says, is that the infant nature of the industry and the way people will use the technology makes it a risky investment. “One of the troubles for public infrastructure providers is that you invest all this money to encourage people to come to electric, but once you invest this money, people will charge at home,” Washington says. “It’s classic market failure.”

To get around this, state and local governments have so far been eager to support the building of new charging stations, but often the support they can provide is limited by their resources and their authority.
Instead, help must come from Canberra which for the last few years has been slow to respond to the growth of the new industry – despite some recognition of its potential. Indeed, one of the recommendations in the select committee report on electric vehicles released this week is that the federal government work with “operators in the charging infrastructure industry to develop a comprehensive plan for the rollout of a national public charging network”.

Last October the federal energy minister, Angus Taylor, announced $6m to support Chargefox in building a network of ultra-fast charging stations along the highways that link Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Adelaide, and four around Perth. These stations have the ability to take recharge times from eight hours down to 15 minutes in some cases.

While it was a welcome announcement, the government has so far failed to address other infrastructure issues that aren’t the most obvious – or headline grabbing. An early example involved the humble plug. With no clear standard in Australia, global manufacturers had no guide for how to build their cars for the local market. In some ways it risked repeating what happened at federation when each state mandated its own rail gauges, making it impossible to take a train across state lines in one continuous trip.

“It had been an understood issue for quite a number of years before but then there hadn’t been any action,” says Jafari. Instead, industry players themselves had to organise to decide on a voluntary standard that was later communicated in a technical document released by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries. While it was a good news story for the industry, it should never have been left to get that far.

Now researchers such as Professor Iftekhar Ahmad from Edith Cowan University are looking ahead to stop future problems before they happen. “Electric cars will increase what’s called high peak-to-average demand. When the owners go home and plug in, we’ll see high peak demand during those hours,” says Ahmad. “The current distribution network is not designed for high peak. When you think about putting so much load on the network, the infrastructure lifetime can be shortened and also it can put too much stress on transformers.”

While several fixes have been proposed, Ahmad says the problem can be overcome with proper planning.
“It has to be well planned,” he says. “It’s not currently happening in a coordinated fashion and the perspective from the government [and] the utilities is that there’s not enough cars in the market to think about it.
“It will happen, there is no stopping it. If you go to Beijing or Europe, you will see them everywhere and if enough planning can be done, electric cars have a huge potential to complement our renewable energy system.”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/feb/04/what-about-the-plug-australias-electric-car-infrastructure-stalled-by-policy-paralysis

E-Scooters Could be a Last-Mile Solution for Everyone

ITDP, 14 December 2018

Like docked and dockless bikeshare before them, dockless electric “kick” scooters are taking off in popularity, responding to a strong and growing need for urban car alternatives like transit and “last mile” connections. As part of a menu of urban transportation options, scooters have the potential to reduce short-distance, single occupancy vehicle and TNC (Transportation Network Company, e.g. Uber, Lyft, Via) trips, reducing urban congestion and emissions.

Scooters provide a low cost, flexible mobility option for short trips, particularly those connected to transit. Bikes have long provided an excellent option for last-mile trips, and they continue to do so. However, the popularity, and user-friendliness of e-scooters may offer an even easier option for the first and last mile.
Scooters, particularly e-scooters, offer an option that pretty much anyone, regardless of fitness or ability, can ride for short trips. As with shared bikes, cities have an opportunity to leverage scooters, and other privately-operated, shared modes in a way that more directly encourages their use in coordination with transit. For example, cities could work with operators to subsidize scooter and bikeshare rides that start or end at transit using common payment options. This level of targeted integration benefits cities by expanding access to transit at a relatively low cost per mile (compared to building new stations, adding buses, etc.), benefits users by making sustainable, multi-modal trips more streamlined and affordable, and benefits companies by establishing a loyal, diverse customer base.

Scooters, bikes, and other technology-enabled shared modes have a role to play in shifting the paradigm away from personal car ownership. Cities can take advantage of this opportunity by understanding the demand for car-alternatives for short trips, and setting smart, goal-oriented regulations that help address that demand. Data from Portland’s scooter pilot shows that 34% of resident scooter riders would have otherwise driven a personal car or taken a taxi or TNC if a scooter hadn’t been available for their most recent trip. While this is promising support for scooters helping to reduce car trips, the data also indicates that 37% of respondents would have otherwise walked if a scooter wasn’t available. When asked how often they rode a scooter to or from a transit stop, 61% responded ‘never’. These last two data points underscore the need for cities to ensure that scooters support public transit, walking and cycling, instead of competing with these modes.

More, and longer-term data on scooter trips could help cities decide whether scooters are, in fact, providing a first-last mile connection to transit, substituting car trips, or pushing pedestrians and cyclists away from biking and walking.

Funding the Last-Mile Solution

Cities are now more prepared for the “ask forgiveness, not permission” attitude of privately-operated mobility services, and are responding to the unpermitted launch of e-scooters much more quickly and systematically than with transportation network companies like Uber, or even dockless bikeshare companies. While a few cities have outright banned scooters, most have launched pilots to test regulations and evaluate potential for long-term integration of scooters into the transportation network. In some cases, such as in Austin, Denver, and Los Angeles, cities are moving to combine permitting of dockless bikes, e-bikes, and e-scooters under a common regulatory scheme.

Other cities are taking more concrete steps to improve scooter and bike riders’ comfort on the street by requiring private operators to help fund infrastructure and other road safety improvements. Indianapolis is the first city to require scooter operators to pay $1 per scooter per day into a fund for road safety improvements for cyclists and scooter riders. Scooter operator, Bird, has volunteered to pay a similar amount for infrastructure improvements in other cities (many of which have been hesitant to accept Bird’s offer) however, some reportedly do not have a process in place to accept this type of funding from the private sector. Regardless, this new model of collaboration between cities and private companies to fund projects that make choosing a scooter or bike as a last-mile solution safer could prove successful, as long as cities are clear about what their goals are and why they are asking companies to share costs.

Encouraging the use of dockless scooters as a first-last mile option could also help connect people living further from the city center to public transit. Residents who live in outer neighborhoods tend to have fewer transit options, and likely require both a first and last mile solution for their trip. These residents stand to benefit the most from improved access to reliable, affordable first-last mile options.

Cities and e-scooter operators have an opportunity to learn from bikeshare by recognizing the demand – especially in neighborhoods further from downtown – for low-cost, reliable transportation options that aren’t private vehicles. It’s also critical for cities to realize their role in supporting sustainable transport like bikeshare and e-scootershare with protected infrastructure that can serve cyclists and scooters well, along with cost-effective and convenient connections with transit. Technology and private capital offer cities great tools to improve the lives of their residents, and taking full advantage of these tools means making space on our streets for many mobility options: scooters, bikes, transit, and shared vehicles all have a role to play in a healthy, vibrant transport system.

E-Scooters Could be a Last-Mile Solution for Everyone

Luxembourg to be first country to introduce free public transport

Euronews 6 December 2018

Luxxembourg is to become the first country in the world to scrap fares on all public transport.The plans, introduced by Prime Minister Xavier Bettel’s coalition government, will see trains, trams and buses run free of charge from next summer.

Bettel, who took office for a second term on Wednesday, made environmental protection a key part of his election campaign.
His Democratic Party will form a government with the left-wing Socialist Workers’ party and the Greens. Currently, fares are capped at €2 for anything up to two hours of travel, which covers most journeys in the 2,585 km² nation.

Luxembourg City, the landlocked country’s capital, is home to around 107,000 but sees 400,000 commuters cross its borders every day to work, causing some of the worst congestion in Europe. Part of the cost for the initiative will be footed by removing a tax break for commuters. Luxembourg has previously shown it has a forward-looking attitude towards transport — over the summer, the government introduced free transport for young people under the age of 20.
Secondary school students are also provided free shuttle services between their places of study and homes.

https://www.euronews.com/2018/12/06/luxembourg-to-be-first-country-to-introduce-free-public-transport

Electric buses coming to Hawaii, New York & Estonia

Cleantechnica, 14 January 2019

Are electric buses news? Not if you live in Shenzhen, China, which has converted its entire fleet of buses — more than 16,000 in all — to electrics. They are also now appearing in lesser numbers on the streets of London, Katowice, Brasilia, and Jerusalem, among many other cities. What is news, though, is that more and more cities are getting involved in the electric bus revolution.

Proterra To Supply Electric Buses To Hawaii And NYC

Last week, Proterra announced Hawaiian tour operator JTB Hawaii has agreed to purchase 3 of its Catalyst E2 electric buses to replace 4 diesel-powered buses in use today. It will also install two 60 kW chargers supplied by Proterra. The company provides tours for more than 1.5 million people throughout the islands each year. During the expected 12 year life span of the new electric buses, more than 8 million pounds of carbon emissions will be eliminated.

Hawaii is a national leader in the transition to renewable energy and reducing carbon emissions. It has a plan to be a net zero society by 2045. “Hawaii has set an example for other states by committing to ambitious clean energy goals, and we’re honored to be selected as the first battery-electric bus provider for JTB Hawaii,” said Proterra CEO Ryan Popple. “We look forward to working with JTB Hawaii to provide its passengers with clean, quiet, transportation and contribute to the continued preservation Hawaii’s natural beauty.”

Proterra also announced last week that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has agreed to add 18 more electric buses to its existing fleet of electrics. They will be used to shuttle passengers between the area’s three major airports — JFK, LaGuardi, and Newark.
“This deployment represents one of the largest commitments to zero-emission vehicles of any airport authority in the U.S., and we applaud the Port Authority’s goal of converting their entire bus fleet to electric vehicle technology,” said Ryan Popple, CEO of Proterra. “We’re proud to help New York and New Jersey introduce electric bus technology throughout the Port Authority airport system. Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark Liberty airports are a gateway to our country. Clean, quiet, Proterra electric buses – designed and manufactured in America – will make a wonderful first impression on travelers from all over the world.”

The 18 buses will prevent nearly 50 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions from escaping into the local atmosphere during their lifespan and save over 2 million gallons of diesel fuel. The purchase price of the buses will be offset in part by rebates offered through the New York Truck Voucher Incentive Program, which supports Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s ambitious clean energy goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40% by 2030.

700 Electric Buses For Estonia

Tallinna Linnatranspordi (TLT), the municipal transport company of the Estonian capital Tallinn, plans to switch completely to electric mobility by 2035, which will entail the purchase of up to 700 electric buses. A 10-bus test fleet is expected to begin operating in the city this year as the company explores the best routes and charging options for its new fleet of zero emissions vehicles.

According to Electrive, TLT has signed an agreement with state owned energy supplier Eesti Energia to create the charging infrastructure that will be needed to support that growing electric bus fleet. There is no word on who the manufacturer of the electric buses will be.

Electric Buses Coming To Hawaii, New York City, & Estonia

The World’s Most Remote Roads Need More Plugs

Bloomberg December 6 2018. Updated on December 7 2018.

The whole four-hour drive to Coober Pedy, Wiebe Wakker knew the inevitable was coming. Less than 15 miles outside town, a sun-scorched outpost of Australia’s Outback that’s served as a backdrop for Mad Max movies, the battery of his electric car ran out.

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Chasing China: Chile drives Latin America’s electric vehicle revolution

Sydney Morning Herald, 10 December 2018
A massive cargo ship docked in the Chilean port of San Antonio at the end of November. It carried it its belly the first 100 electric buses from China that Chileans hope will revolutionise their public transport system.
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Norway’s plan for for a fleet of electric planes

BBC News, 22 August 2018
By 2040, Norway has promised all of its short-haul flights will be on electric aircraft. It could revolutionise the airline industry.

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Growing cities face challenges of keeping the masses moving up, down and across

The Conversation, 4 June 2018
Cities worldwide face the problems and possibilities of “volume”: the stacking and moving of people and things within booming central business districts. We see this especially around mass public transport hubs. As cities grow, they also become more vertical. They are expanding underground through rail corridors and above ground into the tall buildings that shape city skylines. Cities are deep as well as wide.
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Will Australia turn to EVs to address poor fuel security, or ignore them?

REnew Economy, 7 May 2018
The Australian federal government has announced a long-awaited review of the country’s precarious transport fuel security – focusing on liquid fuels such as petrol, diesel and jet fuel. But it is not clear how much the prospects of electric vehicles will be taken into account by the government study into Australia’s fuel security, which has less than 50 days reserves, little more than half the recommended level.

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