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Minister unveils next generation of clean, green buses


The first of a new generation of clean, green gas-powered Transperth buses was today unveiled by Planning and Infrastructure Minister Alannah MacTiernan.

This morning Ms MacTiernan launched Mercedes-Benz's new Euro 4 gas bus prototype - featuring the latest technology maximising air quality protection through minimal emissions.

The Gallop Government will take possession of 451 of the Euro 4 emission standard buses during the next seven years.

"The Euro 4-dedicated Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) engine is turbo-charged, fuel-injected and has significantly lower emissions than those of the Euro 3, which is the requirement of the latest Australian Design Rules," Ms MacTiernan said.

"The new model is well in advance of Australia's environmental standards and makes Western Australia a leader when it comes to providing a clean, green public transport system."

Ms MacTiernan said road trialling of the prototype would identify any improvements required before full production of the Mercedes-Benz OC 500LE started in March.

In 2001, Ms MacTiernan negotiated a change in the bus purchasing deal with the Mercedes-Benz OC 500LE's supplier, DaimlerChrysler - switching the contract from diesel to gas.

The trip and today's announcement are part of the Gallop Government's commitment to gradually replace its diesel fleet with a new generation of gas-powered buses.

"There are ongoing concerns about diesel emissions in urban areas," Ms MacTiernan said.

"There are also economic benefits in the move to gas - running the new buses on Western Australian natural gas makes WA significantly more resilient to the price-supply vagaries of the world oil market.

"Natural gas costs escalate with the CPI, making budgeting for fuel costs much easier and more predictable than when dealing with world oil prices.

"On current production levels, our gas supplies will last 164 years, whereas the reality is that oil will be in increasingly short supply over the next two decades.

"WA is highly dependent on road transport, and our economy is highly sensitive to oil price fluctuations."

Ms MacTiernan also today announced that Origin Energy Retail Ltd had been selected as the preferred tenderer for a $30million CNG refuelling contract.

The Minister said additional gas-fuelling capacity was required to meet the demands of Transperth's increasing gas bus fleet.

The contract covers the supply and installation of new fast-fill refuelling equipment at Transperth's Morley and Bayswater depots, as well as the supply of gas over a 10-year period. It includes an option to extend the CNG network to additional depots.

Contract negotiations between Transperth and Origin are expected to be finalised during the next few weeks.

Ms MacTiernan has formed a committee to examine the short and long-term energy needs for transport in WA.

The Transport Energy Strategy Committee had been asked to make recommendations on alternative energy sources, priorities for research and development, education and information strategies, financial regimes that might be used and the role Government could play in the implementation of a Transport Energy Strategy.

The committee has already provided an interim report, and the final recommendations are due in the first quarter of this year.

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