Perth gets on board bus trials

WHILE Perth’s trial next year of three hydrogen fuel cell buses forms part of an international trial, it will also produce evaluation opportunities for BP in WA, BOC, Murdoch University and the Western Australian Government.

The BP refinery will produce the hydrogen and construct a refuelling station in Malaga at its own cost, while BOC will purify and compress the gas.

Murdoch University will evaluate the project, named Sustainable Transport Energy for Perth (STEP), from seven perspectives, and the WA Government will be comparing results from its other alternative fuel trials of diesel, biodiesel, compressed natural gas and hybrid arrangements.

STEP forms part of a collaborative project between the European Union-sponsored Cleaner Urban Transport for Europe program and the Ecological City Transport System project.

CUTE also involves three hydrogen fuel cell buses but in nine cities across Europe.

The first of these buses was delivered to Madrid last month.

ECTS is a similar project in Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik.

The Mercedes-Benz Citaro buses for each of the programs are being manufactured for DaimlerChrysler by EvoBus in Germany.

Canadian company Ballard Power Systems is supplying the fuel cell engines, which sit atop the buses.

Nine compressed hydrogen cylinders will also be on the roof of each bus at the rear.

Methodology and evaluations including those on breakdown rates, fuel efficiency, emissions, gas infrastructure needs, regulation requirements and public acceptance will be shared between all three programs.

The WA Department for Planning and Infrastructure, managing the Perth trial by one of Transperth’s operators Path Transit, will also share STEP information with a similar Californian trial.

Other STEP sponsorship and expertise partners include two Federal Government departments – Environment Australia and the Australian Greenhouse Office – and Leederville company Smart-Track, which will supply Internet-based tracking and messaging technology for each bus.

The regulation and certification for the trial will also be unique.

Regulation will be created by two Commonwealth and three State agencies and, as there are no more appropriate protocols, the buses will hit the road under gas heater regulations.

Perth’s first hydrogen fuel cell bus will arrive in March 2004.

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