Melbourne bus operator, Ventura Bus Lines, has added a battery electric bus (BEB) to their fleet for the first time, taking delivery of the vehicle from long-time partner Volgren.

The bus is a Volgren Optimus on a BYD D9RA chassis. Ventura’s Managing Director, Andrew Cornwall, said the decision to choose the combination came after several years evaluating the current crop of BEBs.

“Ventura customers enjoy high levels of reliability and punctuality for their bus services, so it was critical that we chose a very dependable solution for our first BEB.

“Ventura has been buying buses from Volgren for over 20 years and we have built a very respectful partnership. Despite the challenges of COVID, Volgren has delivered. They’ve provided plenty of support and understanding with our maintenance team and driver trainers as we embark on this new technology,” Cornwall said.

David Burgess, General Manager of Fleet and Maintenance for Ventura said investing in any new technology requires a strong customer focus.

“Our long-term relationship with Volgren gives us a high level of confidence to support such a long-term investment.

“The Volgren-BYD combination was a strong fit for Ventura’s transition into the BEB platform, due to its forward-thinking approach to ADR requirements and the training support needed to ensure we maximize efficiencies and minimise disruptions to the business,” Burgess said.

Yuri Tessari, Volgren’s National Sales Manager, said the delivery of Ventura’s first BEB was a great example of strong, long-standing partnerships working to deliver clean fleets.

“Ventura has hundreds of Volgrens in its fleet and the fact that they have retained their body option as they moved to electric vehicles speaks volumes. It demonstrates that they trust our products and our service.”

Victorian Public Transport Minister Ben Carroll said the addition to Ventura’s fleet marked a milestone in the Government’s transition to zero-emissions buses as it was Victoria’s first permanent electric bus to hit the road.

“We recognise the work that needs to be done to fully transition our public bus fleet to zero emissions, and the arrival of our first permanent electric bus is an important step towards this.”

“A full bus has the potential to take 50 cars off the road – if it’s an electric bus, the environmental benefits increase substantially.”

Thiago Deiro, CEO of Volgren congratulated Ventura on the company’s first BEB and said the delivery was a reminder of Volgren’s capabilities and capacity to meet operators’ growing demand for zero-emission buses.

“We started with a single electric prototype in 2018. Three years later, we’re starting to see a higher volume of battery electric bus orders across all three of our factories in Australia. And some of that interest is coming from customers that until very recently weren’t even talking about e-buses.”

Deiro added that while manufacturing quality and after sales service are a central part of Volgren products’ appeal to the Australian market, the company’s commitment to local content and local jobs also sets it apart.

“We build electric buses in Victoria using about 100 Australian suppliers and are incredibly proud to achieve almost 90 per cent local production for the body build. We’re also focused on innovative solutions with a range of OEMs.”

That means operators can consider Volgren electric vehicles knowing they are supporting Australian and Victorian jobs while also getting outstanding choice when it comes to chassis technology.”

Ventura’s first BEB will be deployed at their Ivanhoe depot in Melbourne’s inner north and will operate on every route run from that depot, including LaTrobe University, Northland and Preston.

Cornwall said he hopes this BEB is the first of many to be deployed by Ventura over the next several years.