Electric bus technology has improved significantly over the past five years and can now handle most of the City of Edmonton’s bus service needs related to hours of operation, geographic distance and temperature extremes. Another factor supporting the purchase decision was the availability of government funding.
Electric Buses Make Edmonton a Canadian leader
Based on the completion of a competitive procurement process, the City of Edmonton’s transit fleet is set to become one of the first in Canada to add 25 electric buses now that a supplier has been awarded the contract.
The City utilized a Negotiated Request for Proposal (NRFP) approach, which included a Fairness Monitor who provided an independent third-party review to ensure a fair supplier evaluation and selection process.
Proterra, a world leader in electrified mass transit based in California, was selected as the proponent to enter into a contract with the City. Proterra will initially supply the City with two electric buses for infrastructure and charging verification, with plans to supply a total of 25 electric buses to be put into regular service in summer 2020.
Proterra’s clean-running and quiet electric buses are winter compatible, have a range up to 400 kilometres and contribute to the City’s shift toward more sustainable transportation, a lower carbon footprint and high-quality transit service for Edmontonians.
The electric buses will be recharged from above using pantograph arms installed at transit facilities. The buses will take roughly one to four hours to recharge (depending on the level of charge when they return to the garage) and will be housed at the new
Kathleen Andrews Transit Garage in northeast Edmonton.
The City’s decision to purchase electric buses is supported by recent technological improvements, a strong commitment from Edmonton City Council and federal, provincial and municipal funding ($21.5 million, $10.8 million and $10.8 million respectively). In addition to new electric buses, a portion of this $43-million in funding will be used for necessary charging and facility infrastructure at the Kathleen Andrews Transit Garage. Training will also be provided to bus operators, ETS inspectors, superintendents, instructors, fleet and facility staff and first responders.
Electric buses produce very low emissions into the local environment and are much quieter than current diesel buses.
Electric buses have different needs beyond what a diesel bus requires in a transit garage. Charging systems, electric generator backup and battery storage are a few garage updates required to support electric buses.
Electric buses are much quieter than current diesel buses. They also emit 40% fewer emissions than the latest 40-foot diesel buses. Electric buses can also produce up to 510hp compared to roughly 300hp for the latest diesel buses. The electric motor also has fewer moving parts so it requires less ongoing maintenance than a diesel motor.
Winter Feasibility Study Test
In 2015, ETS winter tested several electric buses to ensure the technology would be suitable for Edmonton’s cold weather, steep river valleys, and broad geographic transit service area. The results were included in a 2016 feasibility study presented to City Council.