Pilot project to examine potential for electric buses in Saskatoon

The pilot is part of the City of Saskatoon's larger sustainability efforts, aimed at making the city a more sustainable municipality.

Electric buses quieter, cleaner and more sustainable

The City of Saskatoon is examining the potential for electric buses in the city, as a pilot project being recommended to city council could see the city lease an electric bus for a year. (Jennifer Quesnel/CBC)

An electric bus could soon be hitting Saskatoon streets as part of a pilot project that may eventually see the city's transit fleet go green.

The pilot is partially funded by a grant provided from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities' Green Municipal Fund, and will see the city lease an electric bus and charging system for a trial period of one year.

A report on the pilot project, tabled at the city's standing policy committee on finance Tuesday, indicated the pilot will  include a financial analysis, and look at factors like equipment performance and run lifecycle.

Coun. Ann Iwanchuk, who represents Ward 3 and serves as the chair of the committee, said the pilot project is part of larger efforts the City of Saskatoon is undertaking to become a more sustainable municipality. 

"This is one part of that larger plan, and it's an important part and it's one that's doable," she said.

Iwanchuk said the committee referred questions about the pilot to the city's director of transportation, asking about what other funding options are available from the federal and provincial governments for quicker fleet replacement.

The pilot project alone is expected to prevent 50.3 tonnes of carbon dioxide — the equivalent of what a diesel engine would produce — from being released into the atmosphere for the year the pilot is operational.

That number could climb much higher if the pilot is deemed a success, as the city's goal is to replace 10 buses a year in the current fleet. Once the entire fleet has been changed over, the carbon dioxide reduction is anticipated to be 5,130 tonnes annually.

The report also indicated odours and soot found in diesel exhaust will also be reduced as more electric buses are added to the fleet.

Coun. Cynthia Block, who represents Ward 6, is the committee's vice-chair. She said with the future implementation of bus rapid transit in Saskatoon, areas where people regularly walk and spend time will soon see more buses, running more often.

However, despite potential increases in traffic, she said the new buses, which are quieter and cleaner, will have positive effects for the city as a whole.

"It allows us to move forward the sustainable file on the environmental side, but also make sure we are focused on good quality of life for our residents," she said.

The project is set to cost $468,600, with $234,300 covered by the Green Municipal Fund and $65,000 coming from the Saskatchewan Research Council. 

The City of Saskatoon will supply the remaining $169,300, with funds coming from previously approved capital projects aimed at replacing and refurbishing the city's transit fleet.

The report has now been sent to Saskatoon city council, with the recommendation funding for the pilot be approved.


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