GRT is going electric! Regional Council has approved the purchase of 6 electric buses in 2022 and 5 more in 2023.

Why switch to electric buses? Electric buses are zero-emissions vehicles, and switching from diesel buses to electric will reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.

Those 11 buses will be part of a pilot, where we’ll figure out the best way to convert our entire fleet to zero-emissions vehicles. We’ll see how electric buses handle different routes and driving conditions, and where and how to charge them.

Electric buses are powered by a battery-electric propulsion system and need to be charged by plugging into a charger. Typically this is done by charging overnight at the garage. Some systems also allow charging for 5-20 minutes on the road. The new bus garage we’re building on Northfield Drive will include charging stations for electric buses.

Eventually, our entire fleet will be zero-emissions vehicles. In the meantime, we’re going to purchase hybrid electric buses as our current diesel buses need to be replaced. Hybrid electric buses combine battery-electric propulsion with a diesel engine, and produce lower emissions than regular diesel buses. That means starting in 2021, we will no longer purchase diesel-only buses.

Why not switch to all electric buses right away? Currently, the battery range does not allow a vehicle to stay on the road for the full distance many of our buses travel in a day. Electric bus and battery technology is getting better – and the cost is decreasing – every year. By gradually phasing in electric vehicles, we can take advantage of those improvements and transition our fleet in the most cost-effective way.

For more information, see report TES-TRS-20-12 (page 10) in the Regional Council agenda.