Not very long ago the idea of battery-powered buses seemed off in the future, and given Canada’s cold winters who would want to take a chance on them? But the technology has moved quickly and now two Canadian cities Edmonton and Oakville are staking their public transit future on the E-buses.
No less than three federal MPs, Two Provincial MPs and Oakville Mayor Rob Burton were on hand a few days back to celebrate $66 Million in transit funding that will feature the conversion of the Oakville transit fleet to emissions-free electric buses. Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, was on hand to announce the electric bus funding along with 13 other projects designed to modernize the Oakville Transit system.
Projects include the replacement of 57 diesel buses over the next six years with zero-emission battery-electric buses, plus 16 new electric buses to expand the fleet. In addition, 32 charging stations will be installed to support battery charging for the electric buses. These investments will lower Oakville Transit’s operation and maintenance costs, and reduce the fleet’s impact on the environment.
And then last month in Edmonton that city announced a rollout of electric buses for its transit fleet. Mayors across North American were calling Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson to find out how things are going now that Edmonton is home to 21 battery-electric buses which will hit the roads this month.
Edmonton Transit ordered 40 electric buses from Proterra, which built, wrapped and painted them in South Carolina. The buses run off long-range batteries, which are powered using electricity from overhead charging stations in the garage when they’re not in use. Edmonton is one of the first cities in North America to have this type of charging technology. The buses can travel up to 350 km on a single charge and the batteries work in all weather conditions.
Iveson said “It’s going to be extraordinary for our operators and for the public to be on a really quiet, comfortable, super high-efficient bus.” He says the electric buses will be cheaper in the long run. “They do cost more to buy but they’re about 30 per cent more efficient to operate. And at a time where we’re all sort of scratching our heads to make sure that all civic expenditures — particularly transit — are as efficient as possible and as focused as possible, these super-efficient buses will help us long into the future, control the cost of delivering service.” The mayor said “When you’re on the bus it’s quieter, but also when the bus is going by — for people on the sidewalk, people on patios, people in residential neighbourhoods — the bus will have much lower impact in terms of what people hear. And of course, there’s no tail pipe.”
In Ontario London in undergoing a major test of electric buses, and Guelph is also ordering E-Buses. Hamilton has tested E buses but at present there are no plans for a fleet conversion.