Adelaide puts Volvo hybrid bus to the test

Volvo is pleased to announce their participation in Adelaide’s hybrid bus trial, which was launched in January.

The Volvo B5RHLE hybrid bus is currently being trialled on the joint Adelaide Metro/Adelaide City Council Free City Connector service that operates within the CBD. Depending on the results of the trial, additional Hybrids could be purchased for this CBD loop service.

Alan Castree is Fleet and Depot Manager for the South Australia’s Department for Planning, Transport and Infrastructure, and he says the trial will evaluate two hybrid buses against the existing diesel buses.

“The trial should go for about 12 months, after which we’ll write up a recommendation if the technology proves to be a good fit for the system,” said Alan.

The Volvo B5RHLE hybrid bus is being trialled alongside another manufacturer’s hybrid bus.

“Our intention is to evaluate hybrid technology and compare a series hybrid system with Volvo’s parallel system. We’re trying to compare the performance of the two hybrids against the existing buses to see what benefits they provide. The benefit could be fuel, it could be cost, it could be noise,” Alan Castree says.

The Volvo B5RLE bus uses a parallel hybrid power system that combines a Volvo diesel engine with an electric motor. The power system stores energy generated during braking to charge a battery that can then be used to run the bus, saving fuel and cutting exhaust emissions.

With Volvo’s flexible parallel hybrid system the bus can run as diesel only, as electric only, or as diesel supplemented by electric, for example, when extra power is needed to accelerate. At a traffic light or bus stop, the electric system allows the diesel engine to shut down, another fuel saving advantage.

Volvo Bus National Contracts Manager Ian Clarke says the benefits of the hybrid technology for Adelaide are the low noise and emissions that are good for Adelaide’s street café culture.

The Volvo B5RHLE is currently being trialled in Perth on the city’s free inner-city service. Early results of the 12-month trial, which is being run by Perth’s public transport operator, Transperth, have shown a positive trend on fuel and emissions savings.

While he hasn’t seen any official results from the Perth trial, Alan says informal feedback has been positive.

“From the research and studies we’ve done, I’m pretty sure the success of hybrids is dependent on the type of service they do. That’s why we bought these two – to evaluate them on our specific service,” he says.

“If they’re successful I’d suggest we’ll recommend them for all buses on that service, which is about six buses.”