TransLink testing improved electric-battery bus ahead of new fleet arrivals

Feb 24 2022, 11:06 pm

A specific model of electric-battery bus by a Quebec-based manufacturer is currently being tested by TransLink for wider use.

The public transit authority says a new Nova Bus electric-battery vehicle model will have more flexibility by greatly reducing the number of times the bus needs to be charged throughout the day.

According to TransLink spokesperson Dan Mountain, the performance of the new model should allow for travel of over 150 km on a single charge, even during winter months when cold temperatures can have a negative impact on battery life.

The public transit authority is testing this new model in advance of committing to using it for 15 new electric-battery buses, which is an order funded by the federal government at a cost of $16 million. The new additional electric-battery buses are expected to arrive later this year.

translink electric battery bus nova bus february 2022

New model of electric-battery bus by Nova Bus being tested in Vancouver, February 2022. (TransLink)

Since September 2019, TransLink has been operating four electric-battery buses regular — two from Winnipeg-based New Flyer, and another two from Nova Bus of an older model. All four buses have been used on the No. 100 route along Marine Drive between South Vancouver, South Burnaby, and New Westminster.

Mountain says the two Nova Bus vehicles of an older model in use since 2019 can only travel about 40 km on a single charge. TransLink has installed Siemens charging infrastructure at the terminus stops of the No. 100 at Marpole Loop and SkyTrain’s 22nd Street Station.

The chargers allow for buses to be charged in under six minutes, while passengers board. An automated overhead mechanism descends and charges quickly through the bus roof.

translink electric battery bus nova bus february 2022

New model of electric-battery bus by Nova Bus being tested in Vancouver, February 2022. (TransLink)

The order of 15 additional electric-battery buses from Nova Bus of the new model will allow for the full electrification of the No. 100.

The test will identify operational differences in winter and summer, charging speeds, and vehicle efficiency. After the test is complete, potential modifications could be made by Nova Bus on the 15 buses to ensure they run effectively over their lifespan. Nova Bus is a division of Sweden’s Volvo Buses.

TransLink has ambitious plans to fully transition aging fossil fuel-powered buses to electric-battery models over the next 20 years. The initial aim is to replace over 400 diesel buses with battery models by 2030, along with using these zero-emission models for expansion fleets. But the pace of electrification, as part of the public transit authority’s new net-zero strategy, is dependent on federal and provincial funding for not only the higher bus acquisition costs but also the necessary infrastructure to operate and maintain them such as charging stations and maintenance facilities.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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