TransLink, the transport company responsible for the Greater Vancouver area in the Canadian province of British Columbia, plans to convert half of its bus fleet from diesel, natural gas and hybrid to battery operation by 2030. But the financing has not yet been finalised.
According to TransLink’s plans, all buses in the Vancouver area are to run purely electrically by 2050. In order to achieve this, TransLink aims to purchase up to 635 battery-powered buses, install the charging infrastructure needed to operate this infrastructure along the routes and in the depots and build the first fully electric bus depot in British Columbia.
However, financing for the plan has not yet been secured, which is why TransLink is now approaching the city government and asking for funding. According to Canadian media reports, TransLink has drawn up three scenarios for this purpose – with a cautious, a progressive and an aggressive approach. However, it is recommended that the city council approve the aggressive approach. This would enable the transportation authority to achieve the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by 20250 – but the base year is not mentioned.
TransLink expects an investment volume of between 85 and 447 million US dollars, depending on the scenario. The company anticipates that the acquisition costs for electric buses will be twice as high as for a diesel vehicle, and in addition, one million dollars per “charging unit” – but the term “charging unit” is not specified more precisely. In the cautious scenario, 35 electric buses and a fast charger will be purchased, which should enable 30 per cent of all routes to be served. In the progressive scenario there are 314 electric buses and four fast chargers, in the aggressive approach the 635 electric buses and 17 fast-charging stations mentioned above – in all cases depot charging points are to be added. In terms of operating costs, the last scenario could result in operating costs of up to 124 million dollars per year.
In a statement, TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond described the strategy as “a bold course”. “Transitioning the bus fleet to zero-emissions technology is an essential step toward breaking the region’s dependence on fossil fuels,” Desmond said.
But without funding, TransLink will not be able to afford any of the projects. The company would then be forced to purchase “another generation of diesel-hybrid and natural gas buses for its upcoming replacement orders”.
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