BC Transit is rolling out a plan to electrify its entire fleet of more than 1,000 buses across the province by 2040.
On Monday, it launched its low-carbon fleet program, outlining how it plans to switch from diesel to zero-emissions vehicles.
“In the creation of this plan, we had to consider the fleet replacement of our 1,100 buses to ensure we are getting the most out of our vehicles we have on the road,” said Aaron Lamb, vice-president of asset management. When we buy a bus, we will have that bus in our system for up to 13 years. Over the next 10 years, we will need to make substantial investment in our fleet, replacing buses and adding 350 more.”
The program is meant to support provincial targets for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions by 60 per cent by 2040. It will involve transitioning the fleet to electric, following the replacement schedule of each bus type, starting with the heavy-duty buses.
B.C. Transit, which operates 88 transit systems in 130 communities — including Kamloops, where buses have been converted to compressed natural gas — will no longer buy diesel versions of the conventional 40-foot buses, Lamb said.
“Our heavy-duty buses make up the majority of our fleet and, in our analysis, we will be able to make the greatest greenhouse-gas-emission reduction gains through the electrification of our heavy-duty fleet,” he said.
BC Transit plans to buy only electric heavy-duty buses as of 2023. To bridge the transition, it will switch to low-carbon technologies, such as CNG buses that run on renewable natural gas.
It will start introducing CNG buses and fuelling infrastructure to Victoria and the central Fraser Valley, adding 34 medium-duty and 68 heavy-duty buses to its current fleet of 120 CNG buses that operate in Kamloops, Nanaimo and Whistler.
In 2024, it will buy only electric double-decker buses, only electric light-duty buses such as the ones used by HandyDart in 2025 and only electric medium-duty 30- and 35-foot buses in 2028.
Lamb said it’s “premature” to peg how electrifying its fleet would cost, although initial projections are about $1 million per large bus.
He said BC Transit is working with BC Hydro to conduct site assessments of locations across the province to determine energy capacity and necessary infrastructure upgrades.
That assessment would be key to determining the final price tag, he said, noting an analysis has determined that by 2023-2024, there is a strong business case for using heavy-duty electric buses: “Any investment will have payback in the long run, especially when you consider the price of diesel we have to purchase right now.”
Last week, BC Transit and the provincial and federal governments announced the purchase of the first 10 heavy-duty electric buses in Greater Victoria as part of a larger $79-million program in 118 new buses. Those electric vehicles are expected to hit the road in 2021.
— Vancouver Sun