Your daily commute is set to be gentler on the environment and more convenient for you, as the rail and bus fleet accelerates towards the future.
It might not feel obvious now as you sit on the same bus, tram, or train day after day, headed for the same workplace or study hall, but South Australia’s public transport system is undergoing some massive transformations.
Soon, when you’re gliding along on a hybrid train or tapping your phone to buy a trip on a bus, it will be clear that the quiet wave of change has carried you along for the ride toward a greener future.
Advances are happening at every level of the Adelaide Metro network. Here’s a snapshot.
Feel the (sustainable) power
A series of cutting-edge clean fuel sources are being trialled across the Adelaide Metro fleet as South Australia pushes towards its goal of net zero emissions by 2050.
Investments in modern technology have seen two hydrogen fuel cell buses added to our bus fleet for a 24-month trial. The emerging emissions-free technology is used in cities like London, Beijing and Cologne, where hydrogen buses can refuel faster and travel greater distances than electric buses.
Electric buses aren’t being ruled out, though. A mix of clean technologies will likely be used to meet the needs of different routes. Tests on the state’s first fully electric bus are underway, and it’s envisioned that six EV buses will join the 24 hybrid-electric buses already on our roads.
The rail fleet isn’t being left behind either. Hybrid trains, which use kinetic energy generated by processes like braking to power lighting and aircon and decrease fuel use, are also being trialled. This is the first of its type in Australia and New Zealand.
The move will help significantly reduce fuel use, environmental impact, and a better customer experience, thanks to the reduction in noise and pollution.
Hybrid systems will be installed on all trains by mid-2024, saving an estimated 2,400 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually, and (hopefully) easing your climate catastrophe guilt by a percentage point or two.
Time to tap on
The lack of a metroCARD no longer stands between you and your bus ride home, as Adelaide Metro buses introduce tap and pay options.
By the end of 2023, every Adelaide Metro bus will have a smart validator so passengers can simply tap to pay – whether that’s with a credit or debit card, or digital wallet on a smartphone.
Tap and pay options make public transport more accessible to those without a metroCARD, including tourists and people who use public transport infrequently, and are also handy for the forgetful among us.
The bus network rollout of tap-on technology, which is already available on O-Bahn buses and trams, prompts the gradual phase-out of paper MetroTickets. RIP to them! Very few people were still using them – only 4.6 per cent of total sales in 2022 were for MetroTickets,
and most of those were for regular trips (which makes tap and pay both cheaper and easier for most customers).
The metroCARD system still offers the best value fares (especially for students and concession travellers), and will continue to run alongside tap and pay options, and MetroTickets will remain available on trams and trains until early 2025.
Public transport in public hands
The State Government is working towards bringing rail operations back into public hands after trains and trams were privatised in 2021 and 2020 respectively. Work has started to lock down a plan to achieve this by 2025.
The switch to government-operated rail services has been worked through with train operator Keolis Downer Adelaide and tram operator Torrens Connect to ensure service continuity. It will avoid costly contract-break fees, saving taxpayers up to $94 million.
A call to jump on board
While environmentally-significant change is difficult for us as individuals to affect, choosing public transport over car travel can make a significant contribution to reducing our carbon footprint.
Public transport’s environmental benefits are only increasing as the Government rolls out its sustainability initiatives. And it’s calling for you to maximise that impact by choosing the train, tram, or bus, which often comes with a whole lot of additional upsides too.
The Adelaide Metro online savings estimator will calculate the potential emissions you will save by converting from car travel to public transport travel, as well as how much money you could save by making the switch. For someone travelling regularly from the outer suburbs, this could be more than $16,000 per year! You’ll also save time (think of all the extra reading time!), avoid the stress of parking and a have a chance to spend precious time with you.