Hydrogen versus electric buses in NSW test

Hydrogen and electric buses will be pitted against each other in a $25 million regional NSW trial as part of the state's plan to transition to greener public transport.

NSW Treasurer Matt Kean on Wednesday launched a call for bus and coach operators to join the transport trial as another step towards using only zero-emission buses by 2047.

The announcement comes days after the Queensland government revealed plans to work with manufacturers to build more electric buses locally and to get more than 50 on the roads in 2023.

Queensland and NSW are among four states and territories to set deadlines for a transition to zero-emission bus fleets.

Mr Kean said the state's latest call to action would focus on trials in regional NSW including the far north coast, Illawarra and Southern Highlands, as well as northern, inner west, southeast and southwest Sydney.

The public transport test will compare battery electric and hydrogen bus technology, according to tender documents, to "assess different technology solutions" and determine the better solution.

"Hydrogen is one of the many ways forward in the heavy transport sector and this will ensure investment in clean technology, grow the economy and support regional jobs," Mr Kean said.

"The transition of our bus fleet will have widespread benefits including improving air quality, noise reduction, a smoother trip for commuters and creating jobs right across NSW."

Expressions of interest for the trial will close on March 2.

In addition to future trials, NSW Regional Transport Minister Sam Farraway said the state would begin testing its first hydrogen bus within weeks after its 2022 launch was delayed.

"We are about to kick off our first hydrogen bus trial on the Central Coast to better understand how the technology compares to battery electric buses," he said.

Both tests will be designed to determine whether hydrogen buses are better suited to regional areas than electric models, given their potentially greater range.

Hydrogen could be a more controversial choice to power public transport vehicles, however, as only "green hydrogen" is generated by renewable sources while "blue hydrogen" is created using natural gas.

The NSW government has committed to swapping more than 8000 diesel and gas public transport buses with zero-emission models, starting in greater Sydney by 2035, outer metropolitan areas by 2040 and regional areas by 2047.

The ACT has also pledged to transition its bus fleet to electric by 2040, and Victoria and Queensland will ensure all new bus purchases are electric by 2025 and 2030 respectively.