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Bigger-scale trials on electric, hybrid buses to be held in next few years

SINGAPORE — Following “encouraging” feedback from earlier tests, the Government will rev up its trials on electric and hybrid buses, and three bus services will be served wholly by electric buses, Second Transport Minister Ng Chee Meng announced in Parliament on Wednesday (March 8).

SINGAPORE — Following “encouraging” feedback from earlier tests, the Government will rev up its trials on electric and hybrid buses, and three bus services will be served wholly by electric buses, Second Transport Minister Ng Chee Meng announced in Parliament on Wednesday (March 8).

Bigger-scale trials will be mounted in the next few years, and the Land Transport Authority (LTA) will call tenders to procure 60 electric buses and 50 hybrid ones this year, he added.

These trials will allow a deeper understanding of the operational challenges that a wider deployment of such buses may bring, under local weather and traffic conditions, the LTA said in a press statement.

While carrying a higher price tag, these buses are less pollutive and make for a more comfortable ride for bus captains and commuters.

The outcomes of the trials will be used to calibrate the approach towards adopting buses that run on alternative energy sources, the LTA added.

Mr Ng said that the Republic has already been shifting towards a more environmentally-friendly fleet, with models that meet tighter emission standards. “But no emission is better than low emissions,” he noted.

As part of a continuing trial involving Go-Ahead Singapore, China-based automaker BYD and its local distributor S Dreams, an electric K9 bus had been trialled on Service 17 and is being tested on Service 119 now, with “encouraging” initial feedback. In 2015, SBS Transit and Volvo also conducted a diesel-hybrid bus trial.

Meanwhile, the Republic is pressing on with other efforts on the electric vehicle front. Last September, HDT Singapore Taxis made its foray with the country’s first fully electric fleet of cabs. It will roll out 100 electric cabs progressively by the middle of this year in an eight-year trial.

By 2020, 1,000 shared electric vehicles will also fan out across all Housing and Development Board towns, as part of a car-sharing initiative announced last June.

BlueSG, a subsidiary of the Bollore Group, which runs the world’s largest fully electric car-sharing programme, will develop and operate the 10-year programme. The first stable of 125 electric vehicles and 250 charging points will be rolled out by the second half of this year.

Meanwhile, the installation of the common fleet management system across the Republic’s bus network will be completed by this month. It gives operators live updates on the location of each bus and arrival times, among other things, raising the efficiency of operations.

As for self-driving vehicles, trials began at one-north in 2015 and four organisations are testing the vehicles there now. Efforts are also under way to develop self-driving buses.

Other efforts include agreements inked in January between the Transport Ministry and PSA Corporation, and automotive firms Scania and Toyota Tsusho, to develop and test solutions for autonomous truck platooning. This involves a manned truck leading a convoy of driverless ones that will transport containers from one port terminal to another.

The authorities also announced last October that they were exploring how to develop self-driving multipurpose utility vehicles that could be designed for purposes such as road sweeping.

Along with truck platooning, this is expected to cut the need for manpower and free road space during peak hours by deploying these autonomous systems at night, for instance.

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