SINGAPORE: Singapore moved a step closer to a cleaner public bus fleet with the introduction of 10 electric double-decker buses on Tuesday (Oct 27).
This batch is part of the 60 electric buses the Land Transport Authority (LTA) purchased in 2018 for S$50 million from three outfits - the Chinese Yutong-NARI consortium, Shenzhen-based BYD, as well as Singapore firm ST Engineering.
The 10 new Yutong double-deckers - each of which is able to carry about 120 passengers - bring the total number of electric buses here to 25, out of a public bus fleet of about 5,800.
The LTA rolled out an initial batch of 10 Yutong single-deck electric buses in April, across five routes operated by the four public bus operators here. Another five BYD single-deck buses were introduced in July.
All 60 electric buses are expected to be deployed by next year.
They will join 50 diesel-electric hybrid buses already on the roads, which were purchased from Volvo at a cost of S$30 million in 2017.
The authority had noted the use of electric buses would help reduce carbon emissions by about 7,840 tonnes per year - the equivalent to the emissions from 1,700 cars.
Such buses will also be quieter, with electric buses generating an ambient noise level of around 75 decibels - three decibels lower than that of a typical Euro 6 diesel bus.
The LTA had first tested the use of an electric bus here with Shenzhen-based BYD and bus operator Go-Ahead between 2016 and 2017, as part of a trial on the suitability of such vehicles here.
The electric double-deckers will begin rolling out on three services from Tuesday.
They include service 83 - which is operated by Go-Ahead and plies a 13km route around Punggol and Sengkang - and service 189, which is run by Tower Transit and serves a 16km route in the Bukit Batok area.
The new buses will also be available on service 983, an SMRT service plying an 11km route in the Choa Chu Kang area.
It will take about four hours to fully charge each of the double-decker buses, which can travel up to 215km on a single charge.
The lithium iron phosphate batteries used by the buses are able to withstand high operating temperatures, enhancing commuter safety, said the LTA.
In March, then-Senior Minister of State for Transport Janil Puthucheary said the Government would buy only electric or hybrid buses moving forward, in line with its goal to have public buses run on cleaner energy by 2040.
WORTH THE PRICE
Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung and Senior Minister of State for Transport Chee Hong Tat viewed some of the new buses on Tuesday during a visit to the Bulim depot, managed by Tower Transit.
Speaking to the media after the visit, Mr Chee noted electric buses were pricier compared to conventional diesel-powered models.
In response to media queries, the LTA said electric buses could be up to twice the price of a diesel bus, and up to 35 per cent more than a diesel-electric hybrid bus.
The management of the current electric fleet will help it better understand the life cycle cost of such buses, it added.
"We are doing it (purchasing cleaner fuel buses) because we believe that it's better for the environment and this is a step that we want to take to support a more sustainable, greener future," said Mr Chee, who is also Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs.
"I believe as technology evolves, the costs of the batteries, the electric buses, cleaner fuel for buses will come down and we also have more options that we can choose from," he added, noting this could possibly include hydrogen or fuel cell powered models.
The LTA said two types of charging infrastructure will be used for these 60 electric buses, with 40 buses using plug-in charging.
“For plug-in charging, buses are charged by manually plugging in charger guns overnight during off-revenue hours at the bus depots. They are charged at between 90kW to 150kW for two to four hours,” said an LTA spokesperson.
The larger batteries on board these buses allow them to run for between 200km and 300km on a full charge, the spokesperson added.
There are currently 32 charging stations spread across the Bulim, Loyang and Seletar bus depots.
Meanwhile, another 20 buses will use pantograph charging, where chargers mounted overhead at designated parking lots lower connectors on to the roof of buses to allow them to charge.
“With pantograph charging, electric buses are charged at a higher power input of up to 450kW during their short lay-over time of 10 to 15 minutes at bus interchanges,” the LTA said, adding that these buses have smaller batteries onboard as well as a shorter operating mileage of up to 48km per charge.
Pantograph charging is expected to be used by the 20 electric buses supplied by ST Engineering.