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Posts from the ‘Sustainable Transport’ Category

The big questions about electric cars

News.com.au 9 April 2019

Fears have been raised Australians will lose their beloved SUVs, utes and vans and be forced to drive electric cars. So are they that bad?

Will Australians lose the SUVs, utes and vans they love — to accommodate the rise of the electric car?

Fears have been raised that people’s cars will be taken away from them after Labor unveiled an ambitious policy to support the take-up of electric vehicles.

It wants 50 per cent of all new cars sold in Australia to be electric by 2030 and also plans to introduce a carbon emissions target for new cars.

The plans have raised a number of concerns about electric cars and whether people will still be able to buy the vehicles they love.

So what’s the deal with electric cars and Labor’s new emissions targets?

HOW LONG DO THEY TAKE TO CHARGE?

A lot of figures have been thrown up about how long it takes to charge an electric car, and it all comes down to how big the car is and what type of charger you use.

When Labor leader Bill Shorten was asked how long it would take to “charge it up” on the Kyle and Jackie O radio show last week, he said eight to 10 minutes.

“It depends on what your original charge is, but it can take … eight to 10 minutes depend on your charge, it can take longer,” he said.

Crucially, he added: “It depends how flat your battery is”.

If you are only topping up your car’s battery at a superfast charging station, it may only take eight to 10 minutes if all you’re wanting to do is drive the 15 minutes home.

But charging an empty battery to full power takes longer.

It depends on how big your battery is and what type of charger you are using.

According to UK electric vehicle charging provider Pod Point, a small car such as the Nissan LEAF, which has a 40kWh battery, can be fully charged in one hour using a fast charger. This will allow it to travel up to 230km.

But if you are charging at home, it takes up to six hours using a special converter or about 11 hours using just your normal household power point.

The Tesla Model S Long Range, which can travel up to 480km, is able to use a special supercharger to power up its much bigger 100kWh battery, also in one hour.

But it can take between six to 27 hours to charge at home, depending on whether you have a normal power point or are using a special adaptor.

On Sunday, Wiebe Wakker arrived in Sydney in an electric car he drove from his home in the Netherlands.

Mr Wakker’s car had a small 37kWh battery that only allowed him to drive a maximum of 200km. But he made it across Europe and through Turkey, Iran, India, Myanmar, Malaysia, Indonesia and across the Nullarbor to Sydney.

His car, an older model produced in 2009, had a slow charging rate, and so it took him up to 15 hours to recharge using normal domestic power points in Australia.

But at commercial charging stations, he was able to fill up in about 20 minutes.

Mr Wakker said he only ran out of charge four times on his world trip and these all occurred in Australia.

“To make it more convenient for long-distance travelling, infrastructure needs to step up,” he said news.com.au.

However, he noted that most electric cars sold in Australia could now travel distances of up to 450km, and this was enough to get by.

“I estimated that if you have a battery with a minimum range of about 300km, Australia is really easy to travel through. You can even turn on the airconditioning and not worry about the energy used.”

Mr Wakker was able to find places to charge his car on plugshare.com but says this often involved using normal power points, which take longer.

“At some point, to really be convenient, you need to put into place fast chargers,” he said.

HOW EXPENSIVE IS IT?

The cost of charging an electric vehicle varies depending on where you live and how expensive your power is — but it’s a lot cheaper than filling your tank with petrol.

According to the blog My Electric Car, the average price for electricity in Australia is $. 025 per kilowatt hour, and it takes about 18kWh to travel 100km. So it costs about $4.50 in electricity to travel 100km.

In comparison, it costs about $16.65 to travel 100km if petrol is $1.50 a litre. This is based on the average petrol car using 11.1 litres of fuel to travel 100km.

At the moment, electric cars are more expensive to buy. There are only four models available in Australia priced at less than $60,000.

However, it’s expected that EVs will become cheaper and will be the same price as petrol cars by about 2025 — that’s just six years away.

ARE THEY WORSE FOR THE ENVIRONMENT?

Critics of electric cars point out that their carbon emissions can be worse than some petrol cars.

This is because 63 per cent of the electricity in Australia in 2016-17 is still being sourced from coal-fired power stations.

However, once more renewable energy is added, emissions will improve.

In his review of the national electricity market, Australia’s chief scientist Alan Finkel noted the uptake of electric vehicles — combined with a decarbonised electricity grid — could help to achieve significant emissions reductions in the transport sector, which accounted for about 18 per cent of Australia’s emissions in 2015.

The CSIRO Energy Roadmap has estimated electric vehicles could reduce carbon emissions by about 15-25 million tonnes by 2030.

Despite its criticism of Labor’s electric car policy, the Coalition’s own climate change policy was projecting electric cars would make up between 25 per cent and 50 per cent of new car sales by 2030.

Environment Department officials on Thursday confirmed to Labor senator Kristina Keneally the Government had been eyeballing a similar electric vehicle target to Labor’s.

CAN THE POWER GRID HANDLE IT?

Electric vehicles will place more demand on the power grid, but experts have suggested this can be managed.

Labor has set a target that 50 per cent of new cars be electric by 2030 and it seems this ambitious goal will require careful management of the grid.

A report done by Evenergi and Australian Renewable Energy Agency, looked specifically at South Australia, but was also intended to inform policy around Australia.

It noted that it was difficult to predict the impact of electric cars but did not predict any significant problem for the grid up to 2025.

However, even without Labor’s target, the report pointed out the EV market would grow rapidly from 2025 and the network needed to be ready for it.

“This will require appropriate management of load and therefore a consciously crafted network architecture — with the ability for demand side control,” the report said.

It said the greatest risk to grid stability was “hotspots” of public charging stations in carparks, highways or in places were lots of vehicles gathered, such as bus fleet carparks. In residential areas a higher than expected number of fast home chargers located close together could also create issues.

The report said “demand management” could address hotspot issues. This could involve incentives being offered for people to charge their cars at certain times when excess power is being produced.

It was also crucial that networks were informed of plans for new chargers and these should also be registered once active.

Grattan energy program director Tony Wood said the biggest problem was if everyone installed a fast charger at home and plugged their cars in at the same time when they got home from work.

“It would be the equivalent of several airconditioning units all being turned on at once,” he told news.com.au.

Mr Wood said there needed to be integrated planning to prevent problems like the blackouts that had occurred in South Australia for example, with the rise of renewables.

“There are issues that need to be addressed, but there’s no reason why they can’t be managed,” he said.

Meanwhile, a potential benefit for the grid, which has not yet been commercially proven, is for electric cars to provide energy back to the grid during peak times. In this way the car could function as a large battery.

WILL WE LOSE OUR BELOVED CARS?

The Coalition is going hard on Labor’s policy, with the Prime Minister Scott Morrison saying the party had declared “war on the weekend” and were stopping Aussies from buying vehicles “with a bit of grunt”.

Energy Minister Angus Taylor also tweeted a photo of an electric car plugged into a generator to mock Labor’s policy.

Despite the fearmongering, Labor’s target for 50 per cent of new cars to be electric doesn’t mean people will be forced into buying electric cars.

However, the types of petrol cars that are available in Australia could change because of Labor’s plan to introduce a vehicle emissions standard.

Emissions of new cars would be restricted to less than 105g of carbon per kilometre. This is the same as the US standard but higher than the European standard.

Mr Taylor told Chris Kenny on Sky News most vehicles in Australia didn’t reach those standards.

And it’s true Australians love heavier vehicles such as SUVs, utes and vans.

Unfortunately, these vehicles use more fuel and are more carbon intensive because they have larger engines.

According to an information paper released by the National Transport Commission last year, the average emissions from new passenger and light commercial vehicles in Australia was 181.7g/km in 2017.

And the top three highest-selling car models in Australia were the Toyota HiLux ute, the Ford Ranger ute and the Toyota Corolla.

Ninety-two per cent of all new cars sold in 2017 were one of 15 makes, and none of these had emissions low enough to be considered a “green” model (with emissions lower than 120g/km).

This is partly because Australia is one of the only developed nations in the world without a carbon emissions standard for cars.

But it can’t hold progress back forever.

Interestingly, carmaker Toyota is one of a number of manufacturers already developing electric and lower emission vehicles. It has a zero emissions target by 2050 for its sites and vehicles.

A Toyota spokeswoman told news.com.au it welcomed Labor’s announcement on the emissions target and supported, in principle, initiatives that helped to reduce the environmental impact of transportation.

Last year Toyota vice-president of national operations Sean Hanley even went as far as calling for politicians to introduce emissions targets but said this should be done at the same time as introducing tougher fuel quality requirements.

“Australia must harmonise its emissions standards with leading overseas markets,” Mr Hanley reportedly said during the launch of Toyota’s new Corolla.

But the car industry has warned it would be unable to meet Labor’s new emissions target using the petrol currently available in Australia. They are pushing for new sulphur standards but Australia’s fuel refineries say this would force them out of business, according to The Australian.

Environment Minister Melissa Price recently postponed fuel standard improvements until July 1, 2027.

Mr Hanley also dismissed reports emissions targets would kill off the rugged diesel vehicles that Toyota was known for but said targets should distinguish between passenger cars and work-orientated commercials and certain 4x4s.

He said Toyota had a responsibility to “take a stand” and was not waiting for emissions laws to be enacted in Australia.

“We can assure you, Toyota is not waiting for emissions laws to be enacted,” Mr Hanley said.

“We recognise all car makers must reduce the environmental impact of their vehicles. The impact of mass-market hybrids is vital, and no-one knows hybrid better than Toyota.”

According to caradvice.com.au, about 40 per cent of Camrys sold in Australia have been hybrid drivetrains, and a new RAV4 SUV will also be available as a hybrid for the first time.

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, which has been calling for an achievable emissions target for some time, also welcomed Labor’s policy announcement.

“The key is to implement achievable emissions targets, designed in consultation with industry, as part of the transport sector’s contribution to lower overall emissions.,” FCAI chief executive Tony Weber said in a statement.

“It’s well known that Australians love their sports utility vehicles (SUVs) and light commercial vehicles (LCVs). Our market is made up of approximately two thirds SUVs and LCVs and one third passenger vehicles (PVs).

“We need to have a realistic and stepped approach to the implementation of emissions targets.”

https://www.news.com.au/national/federal-election/the-big-questions-about-electric-cars/news-story/ce8761992652d6e454a51f7395c45d84

20-minute suburbs: Australia’s walking-friendly cities

Government news, 25 March 2019

A league of experts is calling for targeted investment in walking infrastructure as Melbourne tests the 20-minute neighbourhood.

The 20-minute neighbourhood is based on the concept of ‘living locally’ by giving residents the opportunity to access all the services they need with a 20 minute walk, cycle or public transport trip.

The term, first coined by the state government in its five-year Plan Melbourne bid for a more liveable city, was explored at the MAV Smart Urban Futures event on Friday, where Duane Burtt from Victoria Walks joined a panel to discuss the program’s pilot project.

The program has the potential to transform resident behaviour while also improving perceptions of the local area, he says.

“I think it’s a new way of thinking about planning and economic development, for the state government in particular but also to an extent local government, and it does offer the potential to see stronger local communities from a number of dimensions –economically but also socially and in terms of health,” he told Government News.

The project is part of a broader bid to create a sustainable, less congested city as Melbourne’s population grows by 125,000 year-on-year.

On the back of the movement is a growing push for walking-friendly infrastructure to support healthier, less congested spaces.

Investment in walking infrastructure has the potential to generate substantial returns, Dr Francesca McClean, a consultant for city economics and planning at independent engineering firm Arup told the conference, with a benefit cost ratio of $13 for every $1 invested.

“Walking infrastructure has really exciting potential to create healthier, safer and more equitable communities if we invest in it properly,” she said.

But she says the economic value of walking has been overlooked in some of Melbourne’s biggest transport plans despite inactivity costing the economy in excess of $13.8 billion each year.

“We’ve seen some major public transport business cases not take into account walking benefit streams,” she said.

Walking is aptly known as the “invisible mode” she says, and is often overlooked by urban-planners as a recognised transport mode when key infrastructure decisions are made.

Walking stimulates local economies

Infrastructure that encourages walking can boost local economies, Dr McClean argued, potentially reeling in thousands to local areas, as well as creating cities that are healthier and less congested and polluted.

Promoting just 30 minutes of walking a day can also help alleviate the costs associated with physical inactivity.

“Improved walkability can improve retail spend and the economic development of areas – some walking interventions can increase the number of people entering shops by 40 per cent and significantly increase the economic value of the grid,” she said.

Property prices spike in walkable areas

Cities with more walking infrastructure also have substantially higher property values, the conference was told.

Jodie Walker, a researcher at the Secret Agent, a property management company, told the event that walkable neighbourhoods are in high demand.

Ms Walker, who has been conducting research on the Melbourne property market for more than five years, said research from the Secret Agent found walkability accounted for as much as 60 per cent of price difference.

Walkability has a “protective effect” on property prices, she said, with the price of property increasing substantially in line with the walkability score of suburbs.

The same correlation applies for suburbs with a significant amount of greenery, Ms Walker told the event.

“Walkable regions will continue to grow individual economies and that will continue to push up property prices in these areas and also rents in these areas,” she said.

Case study: Change to Walking

The Change to Walking program in action at a Melbourne school and train station.
An innovative program in Melbourne is exploring the use of ‘nudges’ to encourage walking by train commuters and local school students.

The program, which was presented at the event by director of independent consulting practice Active City, Alice Woodruff, initiated a huge shift in locals’ perceptions of the desirability of walking, and in some areas, the uptake of walking.

The first project, which involved the erection of campaign signs at the train station to prompt people to walk, saw a five per cent lift in the number of people walking at a local station, Ringwood, and a five per cent increase in the rate at which regular walkers were walking to the station.

There was also a dramatic shift in perceptions, with 31 per cent of locals who usually drive considering walking as a result of the campaign.

Another program at a local primary school sought to encourage students to walk to school by incentivising walking through a series of rewards including giving students stickers or a badge at the end of the day and erecting a school wall chart.

The project saw more students walking to school, with 84 per cent of students who were previously walking, walking more and 45 per cent of students who usually drove walking to school.

20-minute suburbs: Australia’s walking-friendly cities

Free public transport is an attractive idea. But would it solve our traffic woes?

ABC, 18 March, 2019

The promise of free public transport is an enticing one: fewer cars, less congestion, less pollution.

And a greater sense of community, says Judith Dellheim from Berlin’s Rosa Luxemburg Foundation. “It could make the cities more human and more attractive,” she says. Dr Dellheim sees free public transport as a human right, not just a public good. “This is a valid democratic issue because public transport brings people of very different social groups together, it improves the social climate,” she says.

But do the promises stack up? And would free fares really persuade people to embrace public transport?

All eyes on Luxembourg

While most cities offer various concessions for public transport, no major urban centre has opted to do away with ticketing. The exception is Luxembourg, which will abolish all fares from next month.

The European city-state is tiny, with just over 600,000 residents, but its decision has drawn huge international interest.

“It’s possibly the first example of an entire region, in this case a city-state, making public transport universally free,” says public transport advocate Tony Morton. “There have been experiments in the past where various cities have introduced free public transport in their central areas. They’ve introduced systems where maybe the city buses are free, but the trains aren’t. “Or they’ve made public transport free for registered residents, but not necessarily for visitors. Luxembourg is the first example at scale.”

The Estonian experience

How successful the policy change will be won’t be known for at least a couple of years, but it is possible to make an assessment based on the experience of others.

In 2013, the Estonian capital Tallinn opted to abolish transport fares for all registered city inhabitants, but not for tourists and other non-residents. The move was politically popular but the results were mixed, according to Oded Cats from the Delft University of Technology.

Dr Cats, who spent several years evaluating the initiative, says there was only a moderate lift in public transport patronage, with no corresponding decrease in car use or traffic congestion. “People that already used public transport used it more frequently, as well as people shifting from walking and cycling to using public transport for short trips, which is, of course, not a desirable effect,” he says.

While the policy has been socially beneficial for the unemployed and people on low incomes, Dr Cats says the same level of assistance could have been provided through targeted concessions. And he predicts Luxembourg’s transport authorities will have a hard time persuading people to give up their private vehicles. “About half the people working in Luxembourg commute from neighbouring countries. Many people will have to still use legs of a trip which extend beyond Luxembourg, meaning that the trip is not completely free,” he says. Existing workplace incentives, like employer-guaranteed parking spaces, will also make eliminating private vehicle use difficult, he says.

Service trumps price for transport users

Mr Morton, who is the president of Melbourne’s Public Transport Users Association, is also sceptical about the Luxembourg experiment, and about the broader notion that ticket pricing is the main barrier to increased public transport usage.

“We’ve tended to argue that public transport needs to be cheap, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be free,” he says.He says scrapping fares won’t persuade people to embrace a service which they experience as deficient or poorly run. “We haven’t really made public transport a viable, attractive mode of travel for people living in the suburbs of our capital cities,” he says. “The question of how much it costs to get on the bus or on the train is not even relevant because that bus or train service doesn’t exist where they are.”

Transport economist Ansgar Wohlschlegel warns the introduction of free public transport could have perverse results if it isn’t paired with complementary measures aimed at driving down car ownership.”Once people start moving from car driving to using public transport, then the roads get less congested, therefore car driving becomes more attractive again, and therefore new people may start using the car to drive into the city because now the roads are clearer,” he says.

And that, says Dr Wohlschlegel, could ultimately result in the worst of all outcomes: increased public transport demand, coupled with an eventual increase in car traffic.

Dr Cats agrees. What’s most important, he says, is making car use more expensive during those parts of the day associated with congestion. “That has to do with parking fees; in city centres it has to do with congestion charging, with fuel taxes — unpopular measures, of course, but those are the most effective measures for reducing congestion,” he explains. “Secondly, improving the quality of public transport, specifically at those times of the day in those areas, and building very strong, high-capacity urban rail systems.”

Adjusting for the peaks and spreading demand

For international transport consultant Jarrett Walker, demand-responsive pricing is fundamental to the efficient movement of commuters in already congested cities. “Public transport agencies need to encourage people to travel outside rush hour if they can, because service at rush hour is very expensive, and outside of rush hour you have surplus capacity,” he says.

Fares, he says, are a simple and effective means of limiting rush-hour movements. But he argues for greater flexibility in non-peak times. Mr Walker says making travel free during those periods could help spread demand more evenly and have a positive social impact, particularly for those on low incomes. “They are more likely to be travelling all over the clock, and they are least likely to be travelling into the city in the morning and out of the city in the afternoon,” he says. “It’s the difference between having a job in a bank and having a job at Hungry Jack’s or at McDonald’s, or something like that, where you are coming and going all over the clock.”

When a technology ‘cure’ becomes part of the problem

Mr Walker is also sceptical about the role ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft can play in dealing with urban congestion. App-based car-hire companies often market themselves as an answer to traffic congestion and as a complement to public transport. But Mr Walker says the full picture is far less optimistic. “If a new ride-sharing solution gets two or three people in a little vehicle, that’s better than those three people driving cars. But it’s worse than those three people riding the bus or train.”

And new research from the University of Kentucky suggests a correlation between the rise of ride-hailing services and a decline in public transport patronage in the United States.

Transport engineer Gregory Erhardt surveyed publicly available transport data in 22 metropolitan areas. “There have been theoretical arguments saying that Uber and Lyft bring people to and from the rail stations,” he says.
“That perhaps they are concentrated at night, bringing people home from bars when transit doesn’t operate, and so forth. “What we found is that that’s not the case. In fact, they are operating often in the peak periods, they are operating in places where they are concentrated in the city centres, in the exact same places where public transit is viable.”

He estimates the effect on public transit has been significant. Over a six-year period, companies like Lyft and Uber, he says, can reduce heavy rail ridership in a city by as much as 7.5 per cent, and bus ridership by almost 10 per cent. And that means more, rather than less traffic. “But there is a clear benefit to the person in the car: they have this door-to-door experience that you don’t get in public transit,” Mr Erhardt adds.

Looking forward, Mr Morton argues we need a more realistic conversation about the cost of investing in better public transport, balanced against the enormous amounts of public money spent enlarging and extending road networks. “The stated motivation for not wanting to expand public transport and to boost its use is that public transport is a drain on public funds, whereas it is thought that roads somehow pay for themselves,” he says. “Now, roads do not pay for themselves. There’s actually quite a substantial public subsidy for the road transport system as well.”

For Dr Dellheim it all comes back to one thing. “When the whole of society is fixed on cars, then of course the whole life of the society, the whole economy of the society, is oriented on the car industry and car use,” she says. “So, it means that it’s necessary to rebuild the whole life of the society, to show the people that there are different possibilities, and then you see that there is a real desire to change the mode of life of the society.”

But whether free public transport is one way of doing that remains an arguable point.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-03-18/free-public-transport-do-promises-stack-up/10893288

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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