Oakville aims to green transit fleet with federal and provincial funding support

Wed, 23 Oct 2019

Oakville Transit to introduce some electric buses in 2020

Oakville is taking steps to address climate change and enhance its commitment to foster a greener environment with plans to introduce electric buses to Oakville Transit’s vehicle fleet as early as next year. 

At last night’s meeting, Council approved the town’s application for transit funding through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP) to purchase electric buses, and enhance/acquire new technology to improve the overall efficiency of transit operations and customer service.

“Our Council has been active in implementing policies and programs that address climate change since 2006. Leveraging new technology and working to reduce our environmental footprint is critical to enhancing transit’s infrastructure while meeting the needs of customers,” said Mayor Rob Burton.

“We took the steps necessary for the electrification of transit buses in 2011 with the building of the new bus garage and service centre, which features a heightened roof and crane necessary for servicing electric buses,” Mayor Burton said of the 265,000 square-foot facility on Wyecroft Road. “This investment was made with these improvements and growth in mind.”

Projects approved under this program would receive funding of 40 per cent from the federal government and 33.33 per cent from the Province. Municipalities who receive funding would be responsible for 26.67 per cent of the capital costs of any approved project, with initiatives to be started and completed within the next seven years (2020 to 2026).

The town will submit an application to support the purchase of more than 60 battery electric buses (BEBs) over the next seven years as well as other technology and infrastructure projects. If the application is approved, the town will receive $48.6 million in ICIP funding, with the capital projects to be referred to the town’s 2020 Budget Committee for review.

As a first step, staff is recommending that the town purchase six small capacity, fully accessible BEBs and the required light-duty charging infrastructure in 2020. Oakville Transit will also conduct a comprehensive needs assessment for heavy-duty electric buses to be added to its fleet.

“ICIP funding will support the town’s efforts to introduce green transit technology and could result in a complete transition to a fully electric bus fleet in Oakville by 2035,” said Barry Cole, director, Oakville Transit. “The recommendations outlined in the application to best utilize ICIP funding is another example of Town Council’s leadership in taking action against climate change and implementing continuous improvement initiatives.”

Oakville Transit buses travel more than six million kilometres annually. Diesel fuel is the single largest source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the town’s operations. Transitioning to a zero emission propulsion system would have a significant impact on the town’s corporate goal to reduce GHG emissions by 80 per cent by 2050 from 2014 levels. Introducing electric buses aligns with town’s Environmental Sustainability Strategy, Climate Change Strategy, Community Energy Plan (in development) and Sustainable Green Fleet Procedure, in addition to Council’s motion brought forward on June 24, 2019 declaring a climate emergency in Oakville.

For more information, review the staff report (item #3 on the October 22, 2019 Council meeting agenda).