WSP helps Vector and Auckland Transport explore Auckland’s electric bus future

WSP helps Vector and Auckland Transport explore Auckland’s electric bus future WSP experts are applying their specialist knowledge to help Vector and Auckland Transport explore the transition of Auckland’s bus fleet to electric.
WSP experts are applying their specialist knowledge to help Vector and Auckland Transport explore the transition of Auckland’s bus fleet to electric.

Vector and Auckland Transport have announced a Memorandum of Understanding to explore the impacts of a full implementation of the bus fleet to electric.

The starting point for this is a feasibility study, carried out by WSP, which will model the impact of a full electric fleet on the local electricity grid and identify opportunities where innovative energy technologies could be deployed to facilitate the transition and help avoid large network upgrade costs.

Risto Jounila, WSP Transport Technical Director, says WSP is proud to provide input into the first project of its kind in New Zealand.

Jounila leads the multi-disciplinary team of transport planners, data and power specialists, which includes WSP colleagues in Canada. The team will use WSP’s innovative Battery Optimization and Lifecycle Tool (BOLT) to project the required power demand for charging the whole AT Metro bus fleet predicted to reach over 1600 buses in 2030 and operated by 9 different private bus operators from 16 depots and on over 200 bus routes.

He describes BOLT as a game-changer when it comes to transitioning fleets, with WSP having supported over 40 transport agencies internationally with it.

“We’ll use BOLT to simulate the performance of an electric fleet in real world operating conditions such as weather, elevation and traffic volume, the number of passengers, heating and air conditioning and the actual bus specifications. With BOLT it’s also possible to simulate a multitude of scenarios on a full network to capture the energy consumption of the vehicles on each route,” says Jounila.

On a global level, WSP is developing a Zero-Emissions Bus Master Plan for Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), which includes modification of 13 bus divisions, procurement of 2,300-plus heavy-duty transit buses and deployment on 170 routes throughout the Metro’s massive service area, with a goal for completion by 2030.

In South America, WSP is working with Lima, Peru government representatives and global NGOs on a project to introduce electrified urban public transit via battery electric buses (BEBs). WSP also conducted multiple feasibility studies in Sweden for the adoption of electric buses. Closer to home WSP is involved with public transport and alternative energy sources with various councils and cities, as well as some exciting tourist destinations.

WSP’s power specialist Kristian Jensen says that electric buses are fantastic for their low emissions and quiet travel mode.

“However, the replacement of fossil fuels will require a complimentary upgrade of the electric network to generate and transfer the energy to the buses and other low emission transport systems. The real challenge is not ‘Can we do it?’, but rather ‘How do we do it in a phased, sustainable process that encourages growth and provides direction to the economy, without disruptive shock and discontinuity?’ After all, it’s not sustainable if we can’t sustain people to use it – and we all need employment in an economy where you can plan for the future,” says Jensen.

“Fortunately WSP has innovative tools, including BOLT, that allow us to work towards this ideal and passionate people.”