What cities can learn from the biggest electric bus fleet in North America (Yes, it's Canadian) | CBC News
Dec 01, 2020 2 mins, 14 secs
Toronto's transit system is now running 59 electric buses from three suppliers.

Emissions reductions are the main reason the federal government aims to add 5,000 electric buses to Canada's transit and school fleets by the end of 2024.

"You are seeing  huge movement towards all-electric," said Bem Case, the Toronto Transit Commission's head of vehicle programs.

In fact, Case said, there are only three manufacturers that make suitable long-range buses — the kind needed in a city the size of Toronto.

But the biggest challenge of all, Case said, is getting the infrastructure in place. .

Besides the infrastructure cost of chargers, each electric bus can cost $200,000 to $500,000 more per bus than an average $750,000 diesel bus. .

As with many new technologies, the cost of electric buses is also falling over time.

Case expects they will eventually get to the point where the total lifecycle cost of an electric and a diesel bus are comparable, and the electric bus may even save money in the long run.

Even with some diesel heating, the TTC estimates electric buses reduce fuel usage by 70 to 80 per cent.

If its whole fleet were switched to electric buses, it could save $50 million to $70 million in fuel a year and 150 tonnes of greenhouse gases per bus per year, or 340,000 tonnes for the entire fleet.

"If the public agencies start electrifying their fleet and their service is very demanding, I think they'll demonstrate to the broader transportation industry that it is possible," Case said.

A better solution, he showed, was combining the transition to electric vehicles with a reduction in the number of private vehicles, and higher usage of transit, cycling and walking.

That includes subsidies for buying electric buses and building charging stations so transit agencies don't need to make fares too high.

"Electrifying the bus fleet is only efficient if we have a large public transit fleet and if we have many buses on the road and if people take them," Milovanoff said.

Feasibility studies to figure out how many and what kinds of buses are needed for different routes in different transit systems.

Technology to collect and share data on the performance of electric vehicles so transit systems can make the best-possible decisions to meet the needs of their riders.

Petrunic said that a positive side-effect of electrifying transit systems is that the infrastructure can support, in addition to buses, electric trucks for moving freight.

So far, Petrunic said, Canada has about 120 battery electric buses on order and on the roads.

"It's not a lot given that we have 15,000 buses out there in the transit fleet," she said.

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