City staff in Thunder Bay, Ont. have been given the green light to see whether electric buses could find their way on to city streets in the future.

Council voted on Monday to allow a feasibility study to be conducted on the modern form of mass transit. The report will look at things like what kind of infrastructure the city would need to make such buses work, as well as potential cost.

"They're very new for Canada," Jim Suffak, Thunder Bay's manager of fleet services said of the electric buses.

"They've only been in a test phase for a few years and only recently are they available for production."

Suffak said, as far as administration knows, the buses have been tested in Canada in cities like Montreal and Winnipeg.

The city is examining the electric vehicles as part of efforts to reduce greenhouse gases across municipal services, Suffak said.

"One of the opportunities that has come forth is the electric buses, which basically have zero emissions at the tailpipe," he said, adding that diesel buses, which the city currently uses, can produce about 100 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.

Any switch to electric vehicles in the future would mean other changes to transit maintenance facilities, Suffak said.

"We would have to do some upgrading in our maintenance garage to accommodate the electric components," he said. "We'd be going from a diesel engine to an electric motor, so there would be a little difference in maintenance."

The feasibility study is expected to be completed within the year, Suffak said.