Feds commit $1.2M to TransLink for “world’s first” electric bus charging system

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TransLink has received $1.2 million in federal funding to install and operate overhead charging stations to get four electric buses on the road next year.

TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond says the four “fast charge” electric buses will operation on route 100 with overhead charging stations installed at Marpole Bus Loop and 22nd Avenue SkyTrain Station. Desmond says charging time is expected to take four to five minutes and adds that passengers can expect a “quieter ride” compared to a diesel-powered bus. The performance of the electric buses will be evaluated and data shared with B.C. Hydro.

Mayor Gregor Roberston says “we are thrilled here in the region to be leading the charge in getting electric buses on the road. “Here in Vancouver we have the largest electric fleet of any city in Canada right now in terms of our city vehicles and we’re looking at an even more aggressive shift happening in these years ahead.”

Robertson says the project has received $7 million from the federal gas tax fund. In total the project cost $10 million with the rest of the funding coming from the City of Vancouver, Natural Resources Canada and B.C. Hydro.

Josipa Petrunic, executive director of the Canadian Urban Transit Research & Innovation Consortium (CUTRIC) says the system “allows people to benefit from zero emissions transit and transportation while seamlessly being able to get on and off buses while they actually charge in operation. That is a world first.”

Petrunic says buses can be charged at 450 or 600 kilowatts, which can bring charging times down to “a couple of seconds or less than a minute” if the bus is running behind schedule. During non-peak periods the bus can be charged at 350 or 100 kilowatts to reduce electricity costs and save the battery.

Canada’s leading bus manufacturers New Flyer Industries in Manitoba and Nova Bus in Quebec will be developing two electric buses each. ABB and Siemens are developing the chargers.

Petrunic says the $40 million trial project includes 18 electric buses and seven overheard chargers in total in three cities across Canada. Vancouver is the first to launch ahead of Brampton and York Region in Ontario.

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Melissa is a reporter at Vancouver Is Awesome and has worked primarily in radio and online media. She grew up in Ontario, went to school in Halifax and worked in Northern B.C. before moving to Vancouver. If you've got a story to share email: melissa@vancouverisawesome.com