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BC Transit moving toward electric buses

BC Transit has set a goal to have a fully electric provincial fleet 2040. — BC Transit photo

Coming soon, well maybe in a few years for West Kootenay Transit riders, to a BC Transit bus stop near you — a fully electric provincial fleet.

In a media release, BC Transit announced its pathway to a fully electric provincial fleet.

BC Transit said the low carbon fleet program aligns with the Province of BC’s CleanBC plan, supports provincial targets for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and supports local government climate action goals. Moving to a fully electric bus fleet will provide customers with a cleaner, quieter, and more comfortable transportation journey.

BC Transit plans to start buying only electric heavy duty buses in 2023, with a target of creating a fully electric provincial fleet in all vehicle classifications by 2040.

"British Columbia’s largest and fastest-growing source of carbon pollution is the transportation sector,” said Claire Trevena, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, in the media release.

“Changing that trend will be a challenge, but it's also a tremendous opportunity. Many of the actions we need to take to reduce carbon emissions - such as encouraging people to choose transit over their personal vehicles and moving to a fully electric fleet - are the exact same measures that will get us out of gridlock and make our neighbourhoods more liveable, now and for future generations."

The low carbon fleet program focuses on four principles:

  • Transitioning vehicles to electric propulsion based on the fleet replacement plan
  • Bridging transition to electric with renewable fuels
  • Using business cases to guide investment decisions
  • Developing partnerships

BC Transit said the plan is to start purchasing electric buses while converting to new and emerging low carbon technologies, such as compressed natural gas (CNG) which enable the use of renewable natural gas.

On July 18, the Government of Canada, Province of BC and BC Transit announced the purchase of our first 10 battery heavy duty electric buses for deployment in 2021.        BC Transit is also introducing CNG buses and fueling infrastructure to Victoria and the Central Fraser Valley. This includes the addition of 34 medium duty and 68 heavy duty to the current fleet of 128 compressed natural gas buses.

“Transit can have its biggest impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions by getting people out of their vehicles and onto the bus. However, we also need to transition our infrastructure, including our buses, to reduce our environmental footprint,” said Aaron Lamb, Vice President of Asset Management.

“We are excited to be working with the Province of BC and local government partners towards creating a more sustainable future.”

During this process, BC Transit will be undertaking our due diligence by monitoring and evaluating technology and infrastructure readiness through this process to ensure we are progressing appropriately. These details will inform future business cases for purchasing electric vehicles.

More details about the Low Carbon Fleet Program are available at this link.

West Kootenay Transit System is the public transit system in Trail, Castlegar, Nelson, British Columbia and surrounding area. The transit services are operated from Trail, Castlegar, Nelson and serve Rossland, Warfield, Genelle, Montrose, Fruitvale, Salmo, Kaslo, and Nakusp.