B.C. Transit, the public transport operator of the Canadian province of British Columbia, has announced that it will convert its bus fleet of more than 1,000 vehicles to electric propulsion.
Starting in 2023, only electric buses will be procured in order to create a fully electric fleet in all vehicle classes by 2040. Initially, the heavy-duty buses will be converted, and the first ten B.C. Transit electric buses will go into operation in 2021.
“Transit can have its biggest impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions by getting people out of their vehicles and onto the bus… 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,” said Aaron Lamb, Vice President of Asset Management for B.C. Transit.
The complete transition of the fleet will happen in stages. B.C. Transit plans to buy exclusively electric heavy-duty buses from 2023. In the meantime, the Canadian state intends to bridge the transition by switching to low-carbon technologies, such as compressed natural gas. In 2024, BC Transit will only purchase electric double-decker buses, and only electric light-duty in 2025 and only electric medium-duty buses in 2028.
— BC Transit (@BCTransit) July 29, 2019
Although the overall costs are not yet clear, since assessments have to be made on energy capacity and infrastructure upgrades, Lamb says that “Any investment will have payback in the long run, especially when you consider the price of diesel we have to purchase right now.” In the case of such a large transition, long-term planning makes good financial sense: “When we buy a bus, we have that bus in our system for up to 13 years,” Lamb said.
These goals are already being swung into action. Last week, BC Transit and both the federal and provincial governments announced the purchase of the first 10 heavy-duty buses as part of a $79-million investment in 118 new buses. Vancouver Burnaby and New Westminster will be home to the electric-bus pilot this summer.