Commuters will have quieter and cleaner bus rides early next year as a batch of 60 electric buses, or e-buses, begin operating as part of a trial.
Quieter rides with 60 electric buses next year Commuters will have quieter and cleaner bus rides early next year as a batch of 60 electric buses, or e-buses, begin operating as part of a trial. PHOTO: ST FILE

Commuters will have quieter and cleaner bus rides early next year as a batch of 60 electric buses, or e-buses, begin operating as part of a trial.

The e-buses - from Chinese firms Yutong and BYD and local outfit ST Engineering Land Systems - will arrive progressively from now to the first half of next year.

Due to the size of the batteries, the single-and double-deck e-buses can carry about 80 and 120 passengers respectively, about "10% less" than the capacity of regular diesel buses, said a spokesman for the Land Transport Authority.

LTA declined to reveal which routes the e-buses will ply, but said it will take into consideration the smaller capacity "to minimise inconvenience to commuters" when choosing which routes to deploy them.

The e-bus trial is meant to uncover how factors like range hold up under local traffic and weather conditions. Another 50 diesel-electric hybrid buses are already on the road in a similar trial.

The new e-buses will be kinder to the environment than diesel ones. Deploying them results in a reduction of about 7,840 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) a year, which LTA said is the same amount of CO2 emitted by 1,700 passenger cars.

In an experiment, LTA has also swopped a single diesel bus' engine for an electric power train, part of a proof-of-concept trial to determine the feasibility of converting existing diesel buses to e-buses. There are about 5,800 buses in Singapore.

A key feature of the new e-buses is increased accessibility and user-friendliness compared with current ones. For starters, all 60 will be equipped with colour passenger information display systems that show route-specific information like upcoming bus stops and destinations.

The front door of the 60 e-buses will also have the centre pole removed to make it easier for commuters to board with open strollers.

The Yutong and BYD buses will each have a capacity of 80 passengers, split between 28 seated and 52 standing. They both run off Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) batteries that take between two and four hours to charge. When topped up, the buses have a range of between 200km and 300km.

To safeguard passengers, a battery management system continuously monitors the batteries and automatically cuts off the battery output power if any fault is detected. The e-buses are also equipped with built-in automated fire suppression systems to extinguish any battery fire.

The buses made by ST Engineering Land Systems were unavailable for viewing by the media. Alongside the unveiling of the buses at the Ulu Pandan Bus Depot, 86 bus technicians also graduated under the Certification for Technical Specialist (CTS) programme. The Singapore Bus Academy and the Institution of Engineers Singapore jointly certifies the technicians under three levels of expertise.

Speaking at the graduation ceremony, Senior Minister of State for Transport and Communications and Information Janil Puthucheary said public satisfaction with buses has "increased steadily" since 2015 and he praised the support of bus technicians who "work tirelessly behind the scenes".

The CTS assessment framework will be updated to assess the competency of technicians in maintaining these new vehicles, LTA said.