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Melbourne to have a car-free day…sort of

Posted by Car Geek on January 5, 2008

“Car free days” are gaining a lot of momentum worldwide, having been attempted in hundreds of cities with varying degrees of success. Melbourne looked to join them next year, with a group of environmentalists from the Centre for Sustainability Leadership convincing the Melbourne City Council to close many of the major roads in the CBD to traffic on February 15.

Melbourne at sunset. Image from http://flickr.com/photos/rtv/199179788/, licenced under CC 2.0. A lot can change in a few months, though. Premier John Brumby took considerable offence to the idea, labelling it a short-term populist stunt, and the idea has finally been reborn in a much more muted form. The day has been moved from the 15th (a weekday) to the 17th (a Sunday, when traffic is already at a minimum) and the number of streets being closed has been reduced from eight to three.

The compromise doesn’t seem to have left anyone particularly happy. Members from the Melbourne and Moreland Councils, who have joined forces to combine the car-free day with Moreland’s Cyclovia festival, support a “full-strength” car-free day like those held in Vancouver and London, while the State Government and the RACV maintain opposition to even this modest proposal, calling it a “one day stunt” and insisting that it will cause “traffic chaos”.

It would not be a great leap in logic to say that the Victorian Government doesn’t appear to be taking the triple threat of congestion, climate change and petrol prices seriously. It continues to attack each problem piecemeal, exacerbating the others with each “solution” – building freeways and tollways that might ease congestion but increase pollution, for example – rather than confront a major contributor to all three: cars. Providing commuters with alternatives to single-occupancy vehicles (such as public transport or cycling) reduces congestion, reduces emissions and is cheaper than petrol. Let’s see the government step up and support these sorts of endeavours. One day without cars, with enough publicity, could show people that they can get around the city without their vehicles and emulate the successes they’ve had in other, even more congested cities around the world.

(Source: Drive)

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Posted in Public transport, Transport alternatives | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

WA to wrap up its hydrogen bus trial

Posted by Car Geek on September 7, 2007

Perth's H2 bus, image from Australian Institute of Energy. Western Australia’s hydrogen fuel cell bus will be retired in early September after covering 260,000 km as part of the Transperth fleet. The WA Planning and Infrastructure Minister, Alannah MacTiernan, said that the buses have saved more than 300 tonnes of greenhouse gases that would have otherwise been emitted using standard diesel buses (although it is not clear whether this includes greenhouse gases emitted during production of the hydrogen, which was made at BP’s Kwinana refinery).

The project, which received $13 million in state and federal government funding, was part of an international trial involving Hamburg, Stuttgart, Luxembourg, Stockholm, London, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Reykjavik, Madrid, Porto and Beijing, said Ms MacTiernan. “Most of the cities have finished their trials, while Beijing is close to finishing and Hamburg and Amsterdam have continued on to a fourth year with nine and three buses respectively.”

It is not known if or when the hydrogen fuel cell bus will return to Perth roads.

(Source: Australasian Bus News)

Posted in Hydrogen, Public transport | 2 Comments »

First hybrid bus operator named

Posted by Car Geek on July 3, 2007

Ventura bus, from http://flickr.com/photos/hmoon101/325980245/

Hybrids might not yet be too popular as private vehicles, but if there’s one place they make perfect sense, it’s buses. Frequent stopping and idling makes a hybrid drivetrain with regenerative braking a wise choice for buses, making public transport an even wiser choice if you’re looking to use less fuel.

With these advantages in mind, Victoria is set to be the first state to trial a new diesel-electric hybrid bus. The Bus Association of Victoria recently announced that Ventura Bus Lines will be the operator chosen to test the new vehicle. Ventura already has a notable emissions record, operating the only ethanol-powered buses in the state. The new hybrid bus will enter service in 2008 on an as-yet-unnamed route that will “maximise its emission reduction capabilities”.

If you’re wondering what alternative fuels the buses in your state are running, keep checking here regularly – a full list of alternative fuel buses in each state is coming soon.

(Source: Australasian Bus News)

Posted in Buses, Diesel, Hybrid, Public transport | 3 Comments »