State-owned public transport operator Metro Tasmania has ruled out investing in electric buses until the technology improves and becomes cheaper.
Metro chairwoman Lynn Mason told a Government business enterprise scrutiny hearing that it was preparing a long-term carbon reduction plan, but could not afford to buy any electric buses.
The business, which operates at least 218 public buses across the state, is instead considering replacing some of its diesel-fuelled fleet with hybrid buses.
Ms Mason told the hearing an Adelaide bus company had paid about $1 million for an electric bus as part of a trial, double the amount the average bus costs Metro Tasmania.
“We simply could not afford to embark on that kind of experimental technology until it’s far more reliable, we’re confident that it’s suitable to our particular terrain, and the price comes down,” she said.
The State Opposition promised to invest $10 million in electric vehicles, if it wins the next election, including retro-fitting public buses to run on electricity.
Infrastructure Minister Rene Hidding described the policy during today’s hearings as “voodoo economics”.
Metro Tasmania has recently purchased 11 second-hand buses from Melbourne airport to service routes in Burnie.
Payments to government defended
Earlier, the Motor Accidents Insurance Board (MIAB) fronted the parliamentary scrutiny hearings.
The State Opposition and the Greens questioned how the business could afford to pay more to the State Government when profits had decreased.
The board upped its contribution to the Government from half of its average after-tax profits over the last four years to 60 per cent, as well as providing a one-off special dividend of $100 million during the last financial year.
MAIB chairman Don Challen told the committee the board was confident it would be able to meet all claims from people injured on Tasmania’s roads after paying increased dividends to the Government.
“I’ve got total confidence we will be able to meet our liabilities with no concern,” he said.
“We would not have recommended these dividends unless we were totally comfortable.”