Federal government funds $16M for TransLink's first 100% electric-battery bus route

Jan 26 2021, 8:56 am

TransLink will operate its first 100% electric-battery bus route starting in 2022, using new funding provided by the federal government.

Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, announced this morning in a press conference that the federal government will provide $16 million to the public transit authority for the purchase of 15 electric-battery buses made by Nova Bus in Quebec. This is being funded through the federal gas tax fund.

The new buses will more than quadruple TransLink’s current electric-battery bus fleet, increasing from four to 19 vehicles.

It will also allow for the No. 100 bus route — running along Marine Drive between Marpole Loop in South Vancouver and SkyTrain’s 22nd Street Station in New Westminster — to become TransLink’s first 100% electric-battery bus route.

“It is about cleaner air, quieter streets, and efficient and reliable public transit, using Canadian supply chains,” said McKenna.

“It is about connecting communities, and it is also about making sure we have affordable options for folks to get around. This is a win-win-win.”

The LSFe+ long-range Nova Bus model used can travel a distance of between 340 km to 470 km on a single charge. Theoretically, this means there is enough battery power for each bus to make as many as 29 round trips on the 16-km-long route.

The buses can be charged in about five minutes at the terminus bus stops while waiting for passengers.

translink electric battery bus nova bus 100

A Nova Bus electric-battery bus used by TransLink charging at the Marpole bus loop. (TransLink)

The No. 100 is already outfitted with fast charging stations at its terminus stops for the operation of the region’s first regular service electric-battery buses, which began operating in September 2019. For the four electric-battery buses already in use on the No. 100, two are from Winnipeg-based New Flyer, and another two from Nova Bus, which is owned by Volvo.

Nearly all of TransLink’s conventional bus fleet is built by New Flyer and Nova Bus, but moving forward the public transit authority will only be acquiring electric-battery bus models. Diesel buses will be gradually phased out after they reach the end of their lifespan and need replacement.

While there is a higher upfront acquisition cost, each electric-battery bus is expected to reduce 100 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions and save $40,000 in fuel costs annually compared to conventional diesel buses.

In 2019, the No. 100 was TransLink’s 20th busiest bus route with 4.7 million annual boardings, averaging 14,520 boardings per weekday.

translink electric bus novabus

A Nova Bus electric-battery bus used by TransLink. (Nova Bus)

Later this week, Metro Vancouver Regional District is also expected to approve a $154-million transfer of the region’s allocation of the federal gas tax fund to TransLink for 57 new additional electric battery buses, modifications to the Port Coquitlam Transit Centre bus depot to accommodate electric-battery buses, and various other acquisitions and upgrades, including 108 new replacement vehicles for Handydart and the community mini-bus systems, and new elevators and escalators for SkyTrain stations.

“I will say this is only the beginning [with electric-battery buses]. The drive to zero-emission transit is inextricable,” said TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond,” referring to the region’s longstanding use of electric-trolley buses, which will be replaced with new trolley models later this decade.

“Transit has always been one of the greenest way to travel for all of Metro Vancouver. Our history with electricity powering transit is long, but we’re always looking to be better by reducing our greenhouse gas emissions.”

TransLink’s Low Carbon Fleet Strategy of acquiring electric-battery bus models for future replacements and expansion is key for meeting the target of reducing the region’s public transit emissions by 45% in 2030 and 80% in 2050.

To support the transition to electric-battery buses, a substantial investment will also be made to build the new Marpole Transit Centre — a new bus depot that will accommodate 300 electric-battery buses, located on a Fraser River site in Vancouver just west of the Canada Line bridge.

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