Byron Bay’s ‘world-leading’ solar train is ‘spearheading a new wave of renewable-powered public transport that can help to slam the brakes on climate change,’ according to a new report from the Climate Council’s Cities Power Partnership.
The report, Waiting for the Green Light: Sustainable Transport Solutions for Local Government, shows that renewable-powered transport can help to reduce Australia’s worsening transport pollution problem, which saw vehicle greenhouse gas emissions rise by 3.4 per cent during 2017.
Climate Council energy analyst Petra Stock said that the Byron Bay solar train is an Australian-first that, if adopted more widely could ‘slash transport emissions in Australian cities and towns’.
‘Australia needs to act quickly to reduce transport pollution, and Byron Bay is leading the way with the first fully solar-powered train,’ she said.
‘Renewable-powered public transport is the future of travel, and it’s no surprise that Byron Shire, one of Australia’s most sustainable communities, is steaming ahead.’
Byron Mayor Simon Richardson said the solar train is part of the area’s ‘low-carbon transport network’, which includes plans for electric vehicle fast-charging stations and ‘an extensive array of cycling and walking tracks’.
‘Byron Shire is well on its way to becoming a zero-emissions community, and we’re committed to driving down local transport pollution and ensuring that our town centre and beaches remain clean, quiet and accessible by supporting sustainable transport options,’ he said.
Ms Stock also highlighted the council’s investment in walking and cycling infrastructure, and called for more councils to prioritise slamming the brakes on Australia’s worsening transport pollution problem.
‘Australia has a heavy dependence on cars, with almost nine out of 10 people commuting to work, school or university by car. That’s causing daily, polluting congestion on the roads, costing the economy more than $16 billion nationwide in lost productivity – and it’s set to get worse as our cities grow,’ she said.
‘Councils can steer their towns and cities away from fossil-fuel driven car culture, and help to make Australia’s urban areas cleaner, more productive places to live and work.’
The solar train, which has 6kW rooftop solar panels and 77kWh of battery storage, was funded by Elements Resort not Byron Shire Council.
The train made its first emissions free 6km round trip journey between Byron Bay station and North Beach in December 2017 and makes between 12 and 15 trips on one full charge.
The Cities Power Partnership is a free national program created by the Climate Council that ‘celebrates and accelerates the pollution reduction and clean energy successes of Australia in towns and cities.