Brian Smith, Technical Executive – Transport and Planning, has spent over 40 years in the public transport industry, working in operations, planning and scheduling through to leading capital works programs for the New South Wales government.
Despite being in the later stages of his career, he is excited by the dynamic and challenging opportunity to create zero emission public transport networks across Australia.
“I have a strong interest in sustainability and making public transport more attractive. The move to zero emission bus fleets is a great initiative that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help to rehabilitate the image of buses,” Brian says.
“Zero emission technology is rapidly developing, and the challenges and opportunities are still emerging. It requires agility and innovation, maintenance of a current appreciation of what is happening across the world, and the ability to place all this in the appropriate context for our clients. It is a classic Future Ready approach.”
Brian has been part of the zero emission bus transition plans for Transport Canberra and Transport New South Wales – totalling nearly 9,000 buses.
He says that moving to zero emission buses requires a system change not only for operators but across entire organisations from procurement to fleet management and maintenance to fuel supply.
“The key challenges will be delivering reliable supplies of green electricity or hydrogen to support large bus fleets, especially since Australia still has such reliance on fossil fuels for power generation,” he continues.
“We also need to consider the effects of rising temperatures on bus range which will require more dynamic management of bus fleets and building resiliency into strategies.
“Finally, we need to keep in mind our position as a small right-hand drive country and look at developing a national approach to zero emission bus specification to assist with procurement. We are not the only country seeing the benefits of converting fleets and we may see shortages.”
There are also opportunities to evolve management approaches to better align bus performance and range with operational requirements, through smart charging systems and greater flexibility in bus depot design.
There will be a change in the relationship between transport and energy providers, including the ability for large zero emission vehicle fleets to contribute to grid needs.
The biggest opportunity for Brian is transforming the reputation of buses in Australia.
“They are often considered the mode of last resort, but as fleets transition, the smoother quieter ride and lack of emissions should see them being more acceptable as both a good way to travel and positive contributors to places,” concludes Brian.
To read more about our work on zero emission vehicles, click here.