A battery-powered bus at a charging station. (TransLink)

A battery-powered bus at a charging station. (TransLink)

Ottawa’s cash cements TransLink’s electric bus plans, Langley mayor says

Announcements of funding have been piling up

A $2.75 billion influx of federal cash will speed up TransLink’s switch to an all-electric bus fleet, said Langley City Mayor Val van den Broek.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the additional funding on Thursday, March 4, a grant intended to get about 5,000 additional electric buses on Canadian roads.

It’s in addition to a $1.5 billion grant from the Canada Infrastructure Bank that was announced for the same purpose late last year.

“It means that TransLink can now confidently proceed with the most ambitious roll-out of the Low-Carbon Fleet Strategy [LCFS],” said van den Broek. “We were always planning on transitioning our fleet to ZEV [zero emission vehicles] but this will help us get there more quickly.”

Van den Broek said the next buy of battery electric buses is planned for 57 units, but a big part of that purchase is installing the charging infrastructure, in some cases along busy routes, but also in the bus barns themselves.

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“We’re really excited,” said Township Mayor Jack Froese.

He said now that the announcements have been made, the TransLink Mayors’ Council is looking forward to firm commitments on the funding.

On Monday, March 8, the Mayors’ Council also called on the federal government to use the upcoming budget to commit to funding Stage 2 of the Surrey to Langley SkyTrain extension, as well as the acceleration of the Low-Carbon Fleet Strategy and other major local transit projects.

“More of the work in the next two to three years will be on this charging infrastructure,” van den Broek said. “And then starting sometime in late 2022 or early 2023, we will only procure e-buses. No more diesel.”

The “low-carbon fleet strategy” is becoming so normalized it’s about to be simply renamed the fleet strategy, said van den Broek.

There will be diesel buses on the road for some time to come, she noted.

“A new bus will run for 17 to 18 years before it is retired,” she said. “Which is why it is so important to accelerate the LCFS like we are doing – buses we are buying today will be emitting CO2 for a long time.”

Froese said that as of now, there is also no electric substitute for the smaller local route buses – those will remain diesel for the near future, until some electric alternative becomes available.

The double-decker buses, which serve the Carvolth bus stop and run down Highway One, are also expected to be in service for some time, as they’re brand new, and move more people for the same fuel as a regular coach-sized bus, Froese said.

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