The sort of rural buses you are talking about are coach-type buses for which there is no second-hand source among citybus operations anyway. However country commuter buses are identical or similar to their city counterparts. The Yutong now running in Sydney started its life as an inter-town commuter bus on the south coast with no problems. I see no obstacle to electric buses being used in country commuter service other than the costs involved for the operator in setting up the electricity supply (apparently Nowra Coaches, which fitted a solar installation to its depot, had some difficulty negotiating favourable rates from the electricity supplier.)matthewg wrote: Non-urban buses will take longer - and may be in for a shock - there will be no fuel powered hand-me-downs from the city, they will have to buy custom buses new with engines for those long country routes where the bus may be out of the depot for days. Having to buy new instead of 2nd hand may affect the viability of these operations.
It's interesting from Constance's comments that TfNSW has already reached the conclusion from trials that WOL costs for an electric bus are no more than for a diesel. In other words, they may be more expensive to purchase but they are cheaper to run and maintain. That's something that European operations have known for many years but I guess these things have to be "rediscovered" as they filter out around the world.
I maintain my cautionary position on flash or opportunity charging, not only for the additional infrastructure and power supply costs and effects on battery life as Matthew has pointed out, but because of downtime. The benchmark for electric buses is trolleybuses (which the new generation of electric bus proponents like to treat with contempt, unfortunately ignoring the long and valuable experience offered). They have virtually no downtime, even better than a diesel bus in that respect. They are still the preferred choice of 24 hour operations. Below this you have degrees of downtime. Charging overnight is next best if you're not running for 24 hours. Next down the scale is opportunity charging at terminus layovers. This may be OK if the buses are always running on time and there are several minutes available at the layover. If the bus is late and has to recover by shortening the layover time, bang goes your opportunity charge or else the bus stays late.
By far the worst is the flash charge during an en-route stop. You can see the results of that in the yawning stop dwells of the Newcastle tram operation which is one of the worst examples of a technology con job. In the typical dozy Australian bus operation with its front-door loading and long dwells, such opportunity charges may get away with going unnoticed, but in the really busy European operations with all-door loading through multiple doors in frequently 10-15 seconds, opportunity charging en route is a no-goer. All these issues need to be carefully thought through rather than just charging in yelling hallelujah. As Matthew mentions, the optimum position at the moment is that we can probably generally get a 12 metre bus running on a full normal daily roster (not 24 hours) with only overnight recharge. Artics and deckers I still see issues with. That means if Constance wants to overturn the "one size fits all" philosophy and have electric buses, there are still issues to overcome.