Electric bus? Light rail? Trams?
Canada has an electric bus problem.
Electric buses are making a real, and rapidly growing, dent in emissions: as reported earlier this week, electric buses will displace 270,000 barrels of diesel a day by the end of this year. But despite being home to four prominent electric bus manufacturers, Canada’s transit fleets have been slow to adopt this climate-change-fighting technology, lagging behind others around the world.
It’s a missed opportunity to both cut carbon pollution and support our growing electric bus companies – like Quebec’s Lion Electric and Vancouver’s GreenPower – by creating a stronger market for them at home. Canada has relatively few electric buses on its roads – especially compared to the 16,359 fully electric buses in Shenzhen, China, or even compared to the approximately 100 electric buses in L.A. – but there are signs of leadership at home. Montreal, for example, has committed to providing 100% zero-emission transit by 2040. For now, many Canadian electric buses are sold to California, leading Canadian companies to open manufacturing facilities abroad rather than in Canada.
Though it is just a start, the $2.2 billion in Tuesday’s budget earmarked for infrastructure funding – including transit – is an opportunity to accelerate Canada’s transition to electric buses. More policies to encourage electric buses in Canada would not only help us fight climate change but also create opportunities to save money in the long run. Electric buses have many advantages, not the least of which are significant fuel, environmental, and health cost savings, helping offset higher, but quickly falling, upfront costs.
Clean Energy Canada’s new report, Will Canada Miss the Bus?, delves into the current use of electric buses at home and around the world, exploring the opportunities they present for Canadian manufacturers, transit operators, and riders.
Merran Smith, Clean Energy Canada