Electric school bus one of a kind after program zapped

The wheels on a new electric school bus hitting Ottawa's streets this fall could be the last of their kind to go round and round for a while, after the Ontario government cancelled a program aimed at getting more of the eco-friendly vehicles on the road.

Navan-based operator nabbed bus under former government's green energy fund

'I believe in the future of electric vehicles,' said Andrew Both, general manager of Navan-based school bus operator M.L. Bradley. (Elyse Skura/CBC)

The wheels on a new electric school bus hitting Ottawa's streets this fall could be the last of their kind to go round and round for a while, after the Ontario government cancelled a program aimed at getting more of the eco-friendly vehicles on the road. 

Navan-based bus operator M.L. Bradley got its application for the electric bus in just under the wire, general manager Andrew Both told Ottawa Morning. Other companies that didn't file the paperwork fast enough weren't so lucky, he said.

Both said the green energy program introduced by the former Liberal government covered the entire bill for the bus. Before that, the vehicles were out of his company's price range, he said.

Both said he was unhappy when the Progressive Conservatives cancelled the program.

"I believe in the environment. I believe in the future of electric vehicles, so I'm not entirely enthused about it," he said. 

Tragic school bus: M.L. Bradley's lone electric bus is one of just a handful distributed across the province under the former Liberal government's green energy program. The program has since been cancelled by the Progressive Conservatives. (Elyse Skura/CBC News)

Program axed with cap and trade

Both believes with diesel prices on the rise, the long-term cost savings will also be significant.

"You see progressive governments like those in Quebec and California who are undertaking these initiatives, and I was looking forward to Ontario doing something similar," he said. 

Ministry of Transportation spokesperson Bob Nichols said the program was cancelled as part of the government's decision to end Ontario's carbon cap and trade system. 

"Ontario has cancelled the cap and trade program as part of its commitment to bring gas prices down and help reduce costs for Ontario families and businesses," he said. "Given the electric school bus pilot project is funded through cap and trade proceeds, this program is now cancelled."

When the wheels go round, electric school bus emits unusual sound

5 years ago
Duration 0:42
Andrew Both explains why the normally silent bus plays a jingle when the vehicle travels below a certain speed.

Sounds unique

Nichols said 13 school bus operators and one First Nation received funding for electric school buses before the program was cancelled. 

M.L. Bradley will run its lone electric bus in Orlé​ans, and Both said it will probably be used to shuttle kids from both English and French boards.

The electric bus will stand out in another way: since it runs so silently compare to its diesel-powered cousins, the bus comes equipped with an external speaker that announces its arrival with a tone similar to what commuters hear on some subway platforms.

Drivers who have taken the bus on test runs are getting used to the new noise, Both said.