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Electric Buses

ETS Begins Testing Two Electric Test Buses

Edmonton Transit Service (ETS) has achieved another important milestone in its electric bus program, with the arrival of two electric test buses.

These two buses will be used to test new facility infrastructure, charging equipment, hardware, and fleet equipment that has been installed at Centennial Garage. Once garage staff have received proper safety and procedural training on the new charging equipment, the electric test buses will be driven on the streets of Edmonton throughout this fall and winter to provide early training for transit officials and fleet maintenance staff. The two electric test buses will not be deployed in regular service.

Proterra, a world leader in electrified mass transit based in California, has supply the City of Edmonton with these two electric test buses. The City anticipates publicly deploying 40 new electric buses in 2020, and 10 more in 2021 for a total of 50 electric buses in regular service - one of the single largest purchases of electric buses in Canadian history.

Proterra’s quiet electric buses produce zero tailpipe emissions, 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. 

Electric buses will be housed at two locations: the new Kathleen Andrews Transit Garage in northeast Edmonton, and Centennial Garage in southwest Edmonton. Kathleen Andrews Transit Garage, once fully operational, will eventually become the main hub for roughly 35 electric buses. The other 15 electric buses will be housed at Centennial Garage. 

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). Training will also be provided to bus operators, ETS inspectors, superintendents, instructors, fleet and facility staff and first responders.

Funding through Emissions Reduction Alberta

In winter 2019, ETS, in partnership with energy storage firm eCAMION and the Universities of Alberta and Calgary, were selected as one of sixteen winners for funding through Emissions Reduction Alberta's (ERA) 'BEST' Challenge for clean technology projects across Alberta. 

This funding (about $9 million total) will contribute to important research and development for energy storage for ETS' electric bus program at Kathleen Andrews Transit Garage. The funding will also set the stage for significant cost savings for expanding the electric bus program to other transit garages. 

What prompted ETS to move ahead with buying electric buses?

Electric bus technology has improved significantly over the past five years and can now handle 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.

What new technology/infrastructure needs to be built to power electric 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.

How do electric buses differ from the City's current 40-foot diesel buses?

ETS’ electric buses will produce zero tailpipe emissions, be much quieter, and require less ongoing maintenance compared to current diesel buses (since an electric motor has fewer moving parts than a diesel engine). Electric buses can also produce up to 510hp compared to roughly 300hp for the latest diesel buses. 

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.

ETS Electric Feasibility Study

Fund Contributors

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