British Columbia

B.C. Transit switching entire fleet to electric buses

B.C. Transit will make its entire fleet of buses fully electric over the next two decades as part of its efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

Plan includes replacing more than 1,200 existing buses and adding another 350 over the next 10 years

B.C. joins Montreal and Toronto transit authorities in committing to a full fleet of electric buses, said Merran Smith, executive director of Clean Energy Canada. (BC Transit)

B.C. Transit will make its entire fleet of buses fully electric over the next two decades as part of its efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

The transportation authority launched its low carbon fleet program on Monday. The plan includes replacing more than 1,200 existing buses and adding another 350 over the next 10 years, with the goal of having an entire fleet of electric buses by 2040. 

Earlier this month, the federal government and the B.C. government pledged $79 million in funding for a new fleet.

The first 10 heavy duty battery electric buses will hit the streets of Victoria beginning in 2021. B.C. Transit will begin buying electric-only buses from light to heavy duty starting in 2023. 

The transportation sector is B.C.'s largest and fastest growing source of carbon pollution, Transportation Minister Claire Trevena said in a statement.

Aaron Lamb, vice president of asset management for B.C. Transit, said its buses currently emit about 65,000 tons of greenhouse gases per year. The low carbon fleet program is expected to cut emissions by 40 per cent by 2030, he said. 

"We're really going to be able to make huge strides in GHG emissions and just regular emissions over the next decade," Lamb said.

B.C. Transit will be working with BC Hydro to learn what the infrastructure requirements will be for the buses, which need charging stations, Lamb said. 

A smooth ride

In 2018, an electric bus was trialled in Victoria, he said. He says B.C. Transit received positive feedback on the bus from drivers, customers and maintenance workers.

"They loved the quiet ride. They really enjoyed how smooth in acceleration the bus was," Lamb said. 

Merran Smith, executive director of Clean Energy Canada, said the move toward a fully-electric fleet will cut carbon emissions and air pollution as well as save costs on fuel. 

B.C. Transit joins Montreal and Toronto transit authorities in committing to a full fleet of electric buses, she said. 

"The faster we can move on electrifying transportation, the better," she said. 

"Clean transportation is one of the things we can do today to stop climate change. That's going to really help reduce our carbon pollution and help us meet our global commitments to tackle climate change."

B.C. Transit runs services across the province outside of Metro Vancouver, which is principally served by TransLink.

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