Electric bus service a vision for the Douglas Shire

Published Thursday 17 December 2015

While communities look at ways and means to incorporate greener technology into their infrastructure, five Douglas Shire residents have a vision for the future and it involves electric buses.

The project would be developed over three stages and the ambitious five have designed a bus route that has the potential to cover as far as Cape Tribulation, Daintree Village, Mossman, Port Douglas to Thala, with many more stops in between.

The initial pilot stage would cover the Port Douglas and Mossman regions to ensure the technology is efficient and to determine if eventually it has the potential to develop stage two as far as Cape Tribulation and stage three to Thala, advised one of the organisers Michael Kerr.

The organisers are considering the electric bus project will be established as a not for profit organisation that would utilise sponsorship and grants to sustain its’ operation.

There would be the potential for advertising sponsorships and also the opportunity for the community to become members, which would entitle them to free travel.

The collaboration of the group brings to the table multifaceted experience in batteries, electronics, and bus driving, business management and not for profit management, as well being supported by the Douglas Chamber of Commerce.

President of the Chamber, Helen De Ross, said there has been an overwhelming response since the idea was posted on social media asking for comment and feedback, and while they have received a positive response overall, there still remains some skepticism claiming this could fuel the “bus wars even further”, as well asking “how would the service be offered or free.”

The group says that what they are proposing will have limited impact on other operators’ market, in particular their door-to-door service.  The service would run from 6:00am to 10:00pm and could be offered as a free service depending of grants and funding.

Throughout their research, the group has developed the pros and cons for such a project stating “environmentalist will seek out areas that specifically offer greener ways of operating by attempting to reduce their carbon footprint,” said Mr Kerr.

The purpose, say the organisers, is not only to offer a greener solution for the environment; the plan is to open up accessibility throughout the Shire not only for tourists but locals as well.  In terms of employment, the Shire would become more accessible providing opportunities to obtain employment in areas locals may not have been able to get to without vehicles or for those who would prefer not to drive to work.  As well as offering alternative options of travel to tourists.

“This would enable locals, in particular the elderly population, to get to agencies such as Centrelink or to medical services as well as accessing the CBD areas,” said Mr Kerr.

The electric buses operate on solar main power and electric back ups.  There is also the potential to partner with other businesses along the proposed electric bus routes throughout the Shire to establish charging stations within their vicinity, which will have the added benefit of transporting the public directly to that location.

With companies such as Tesla demonstrating the benefit of storing back up electricity from solar panels, batteries storing power at various charging points along the electric bus route will ensure they don’t drop to less then 70% charged throughout their journey.


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The electric buses are expected to have GPS, together with air-con that can run on separately operated solar power and the main depot is proposed to be located in Craiglie.  

With the conversation now in the public domain, the organisers will set about generating interest in the project by seeking funding.  They will also continue their research into the technology and the legalities and impacts of establishing this project within the Douglas region.

The next step is to advocate to both Local, State and Federal Governments for funding and support as well being open to options from interested stakeholders for the operation of and investment in the project.

If you would like any further information please contact Douglas Chamber of Commerce President Helen De Ross on 40994231 or email helen.deross@bendigobank.com.au