I am thrilled to report that, last week, Transit Commission received a report regarding the upcoming acquisition of battery-electric buses to facilitate the transition towards a zero-emission transit fleet. This report was voted on at City Council today, Wednesday, June 23rd.
City staff engaged with experts from various organizations to examine different energy sources and technologies including, compressed natural gas, renewable natural gas, hybrid electric buses, trolley buses, and hydrogen fuel cells. These were not recommended as valid options as they are not zero emission and therefore do not meet the Council policy direction or because additional infrastructure would be required and would restrict bus routes to areas where such infrastructure had been built.
Following extensive analysis, staff have determined the best path forward for the City of Ottawa is electric buses. This option meets the Council policy direction in line with the Climate Change Master Plan, and could be affordable under the Long-Range Financial Plan for Transit due to recent funding announcements by the Canada Infrastructure Bank and Infrastructure Canada of a $400 million loan and $493 million grant respectively.
Some benefits of battery-powered electric buses include:
- Electricity can power buses with no greenhouse gas emissions from new buses (except small diesel heaters for the batteries used on cold days)
- Battery-powered buses can operate anywhere on the transit system
- Battery-powered buses can be recharged at existing garages or if needed, along routes
- Part of the city’s work to address climate change
- Quieter buses
The bus fleet plan incorporates set dates for bus replacement, bus fleet growth in alignment with O-Train expansions and the city’s growth projections in addition to mid-life rebuilds of buses. The plan ensures buses are productively used throughout their life cycle -15 years for OC Transpo buses and seven years for Para Transpo minibuses. The next buses to be acquired are 74, 40-foot buses to be purchased in 2022 for delivery in 2023. Between 2022 to 2027, more than 450 new buses will be required.
How the city plans to transition to a zero-emission bus fleet by 2036.
Recommended timeline for OC Transpo Fleet Conversion Plan
- In process: four 40-foot battery-electric buses were purchased for delivery in 2021
- Recommended in 2022: purchase of 74 40-foot long-range battery-electric buses and charging infrastructure for delivery in 2023
- Recommended by 2027: proposed CIB loan and Infrastructure Canada funding will allow 450 battery-electric buses and charging infrastructure to be purchased (including the initial 78)
- Future: review technology and funding options beyond 2027
This is a great opportunity for our city and for our reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, now and in the future. As more information becomes available and we advance along this timeline, I will share more details.