An article in the Globe and Mail this week said there was widespread public support for a plan announced by Ottawa to spend $1.5 Billion to put 5,000 electric buses on the road in Canada by 2025. An EKOS poll said 80 percent of respondents favoured the plan for green buses.
The move is part of a three-year, $10-billion-dollar plan to invest in clean-energy infrastructure. It includes adding zero-emissions buses and charging stations across the country.
Modern zero-emissions buses can be powered by batteries or hydrogen fuel cells.
By 2040, two-thirds of all buses on the roads globally are expected to be powered by batteries, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Even though Canada has four electric bus manufacturers, we don’t have many battery-powered buses here yet.
Toronto – with 60 battery-electric buses – has North America’s largest fleet.
In recent months we have seen federal Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna visiting several Canadian cities announcing the rollout of electric buses, most recently in Oakville and Guelph. In addition, the city of London has announced plan to convert its entire bus fleet to batter power.
Clean Energy Canada in a new report says, “transit agencies around the world are transitioning away from diesel buses to electric. There are currently more than 425,000 electric buses on the road worldwide. The vast majority of these are in China, but the rest of the world, including the U.S. and the E.U., is adding more electric buses every year. This trend is set to accelerate as the cost of battery technology falls.”
The clean energy report makes it clear that there are investments that need to be made in order to successfully convert a transit fleet to batter electric power. First of all e-buses are more expensive than diesel or natural gas-powered buses but a report co authored by Kara M. Kockelman from the McMaster Department of Engineering suggests the cost difference would be recovered over 12 years because of the fuel savings. The report also said the cost of E buses is dropping as is the cost of batteries.
At current pricing it would cost about $231 Million to immediately convert the entire HSR fleet to electric. Most North American cities have plans to phase in the conversion over several years because of the size of the investment. Hamilton if it chose to use the $1Billion in transit cash pledged by the Ford government would not have that constraint. In addition, Hamilton would also become eligible for participation in the Federal E-Bus conversion plan which would reduce the cost to the city depending on the level of Federal support. E buses need to be stored indoors which would necessitate a new bus storage facility. Former Hamilton Transit Director had recommended such a facility be built as part of Hamilton’s 10-year transit strategy at a cost of $200 Million. Charging infrastructure would be expensive, but again would be eligible for some federal funding in addition to the provincial commitment. Minister McKenna recently announced finding support for Brampton to acquire e-buses along with high-speed overhead charging infrastrucure.