TransLink has made it very clear that the future of its bus fleet is electric-battery powered, and a new structure installed at the Expo Line’s 22nd Street Station in New Westminster could be the first of many to come.
The public transit authority has built its first overhead electric-battery bus charger at the station’s bus loop.
The new installation is a key component of TransLink’s forthcoming 2.5-year-long pilot project of running the No. 100 Marine Drive bus route between the Marpole Loop and 22nd Street Station with four new electric-battery buses, which are being provided by Canadian bus manufacturers New Flyer and Nova Bus.
High-powered charging station infrastructure provided by ASEA Brown Boveri and Siemens Canada installed at each end of the route will support the operation of these buses, which will be charged rapidly within just four to seven minutes while the buses are in layover.
The pilot program is scheduled to begin later this year, and data collected from the years-long operations will be used to adapt the technology for the wider fleet.
Installation work of the new charging infrastructure at 22nd Street Station coincided with construction work to completely overhaul the station’s bus loop with a new and improved design.
Over the longer term, TransLink plans on converting its entire bus fleet to electric-battery powered to enable the public transit authority to reach its goal of reducing its emissions by 80% by 2050. Fossil fuel buses will only be replaced with electric-battery powered buses when they reach the end of their lifespan.
According to a 2018 TransLink staff report, it is estimated that significant infrastructure investments of between $250 million and $780 million, depending on the electrification scenario, would be required – such as new charging infrastructure and changes to bus operations.
If the plan were set into motion in 2023, depending on the scenario, it could save $1.4 billion or $1.6 billion in operational costs, resulting in net savings of $655 million or $1.3 billion, respectively, by 2050.
Other improvements planned for the Vancouver and Burnaby’s Marine Drive corridor entail the planned launch of a new bus route between the Canada Line’s Marine Drive Station and the new River District neighbourhood at the southeast corner of Vancouver.
The new route will initially run only during peak hours. It will address overcrowding on Route 100 and provide additional capacity to the significant residential and commercial developments completed at River District in recent years.