Eric Charlton

Eric Charlton

Former Minister for Transport

    Group to provide advice on the most appropriate fuel for Perth's buses

    28/04/1998 12:00 AM



    Transport Minister Eric Charlton today announced the setting up of an expert reference group to provide advice on the most appropriate fuel for Perth's buses in the long term.


    The Minister said the group would have an independent chairperson and would also include a Transperth bus service provider, a representative from Alinta Gas, a transport representative, a Department of Environmental Protection representative and an independent environmental expert.


    "The group will provide the best possible independent advice to help assess the trial of the new gas buses," Mr Charlton said.


    "Contrary to perceptions and inferences made by producers of gas vehicles, it should be acknowledged that the emissions from the diesel engine, with respect to greenhouse gas emissions, is equal to or better than the emissions of the natural gas engine.


    "On the other hand the natural gas engines perform better with respect to the smog forming gases.


    "It is a fallacy to assume that the switch to natural gas will contribute to the reduction of all the exhaust emission problems.


    "This reference group will examine all issues associated with both types of fuel as well as the outcomes of a review which is being undertaken by the Department of Transport to examine the performance and operating cost of Transperth's current gas buses."


    The State Government will purchase 128 diesel buses and five gas buses over the next 12 months. The first 133 buses are part of a 12-year plan to upgrade Transperth's ageing bus fleet with 848 low-floor, accessible, air-conditioned buses.


    Mr Charlton said there were already 46 gas buses operating within the Transperth fleet, however these were not as reliable as their diesel counterparts. The new buses would incorporate the latest technology.


    "It is important to test any new technology to ensure that it provides the best performance and reliability," Mr Charlton said.


    "Transperth's contract with the supplier, Mercedes Benz, will be sufficiently flexible to incorporate more gas buses subject to the group's recommendations.


    "A significant amount of time has already been spent on examining the diesel versus gas debate for those buses using old technology and currently being used in our fleet."


    The Minister said an international conference called "Fuelling the Future", which was held in Perth in February 1997, had extensively discussed the diesel/gas issue.


    "The conference found that Euro 2 diesel engines, which are being purchased for Transperth as the first order under the new Mercedes Benz contract, are the most reliable and proven technology available at present," Mr Charlton said.


    "They are also much cleaner than the diesel buses currently in service.


    "However, the conference also concluded it would be prudent to keep in touch with research developments which may result in a change to another fuel during the life of the bus replacement contract.


    The reference group is expected to report back to the Minister by the end of the year.


    Media Contact. Doug Cunningham 9321 7333