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Electric Brisbane Metro vehicle dubbed the 'Tesla of public transport' ready for testing

Electric Brisbane Metro vehicle dubbed the 'Tesla of public transport' ready for testing

24 August, 2022

A multi-million-dollar electric pilot vehicle for Brisbane City Council's $1.7 billion mass transit project, the Brisbane Metro, has arrived in the city ahead of extensive road testing. 

The bi-articulated Metro vehicle will be tested on the Brisbane busways and up Mt Coot-tha at night, to ensure it completes 750 tests to be declared fit for use.

Manufactured in Europe under a joint agreement by Swiss company Hess, with electric infrastructure experts Hitachi Energy and bus company Volgren, the 24.4-metre-long vehicle can take up to 170 passengers and is fully electric.

Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner said the advanced design was the "Tesla of public transport", and if the vehicle was successful after months of testing, council would order a further 59 vehicles.

"This vehicle represents the best of everything – the best global technology coming here to Brisbane and being put into test now," he said.

"We will see this vehicle using the busway, we’ll see it being put through a rigorous testing process but we are absolutely excited about what this represents for public transport in Brisbane."

The total cost of the pilot vehicle was commercial-in-confidence, Mr Schrinner said.

Brisbane Metro will extend from Eight Mile Plains to the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital, and under new plans with the state government will connect up to Cross River Rail at Woolloongabba.

The council expanded its $944 million budget for the Metro by $300 million to make all the vehicles fully electric, including flash charging technology at several points along the busway and a fully electric depot at Rochedale, currently under construction.

The council's transport chair Ryan Murphy said Brisbane's bus network would shoulder two-thirds of the commuter load, with the Metro designed to improve user experience and cut down travel times.

"We think that the Metro vehicle will actually set the model for how smaller and mid-sized cities can address public transport challenges in their jurisdictions, without the heavy cost and the years of construction that light rail causes," he said.

"We’ve seen that in both Newcastle and Sydney and most recently the Gold Coast, the cost of light rail systems blow out considerably."

Station swap

The Metro project has been plagued with delays for years, with a planned underground station at the Cultural Centre in South Brisbane a lengthy sticking point between the council and state government.

That problem now appears solved after the announcement of $350 million from the state, in the recent City Deal, to build a new Metro station at Woolloongabba.

The exact location of that station is yet to be finalised, Mr Murphy said, but would likely be close to the rail station.

Mr Schrinner said he believed that the installation of a Gabba Metro station would solve the issues faced by the Cultural Centre Station.

"We had originally, as part of Brisbane Metro in the first phase … wanted to have a station at the Gabba. Because of the Cross River Rail project we were told to stay away from that precinct," he said.

"The state government has since then realised the importance of Metro and they want the station at the Gabba."

A further $1 million was committed under the City Deal to fund a study of South Brisbane public transport in an effort to help resolve the conflicts at the Cultural Centre station.

"At the moment the Cultural Centre Station is the busiest station in the transport network. We believe that the new Gabba station will take significant pressure off the Cultural Centre Station," Mr Schrinner said.