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T3 Transit looks to the future with electric bus

Published by CBC News
Written by Kevin Yarr, CBC News

An electric bus will run up and down Charlottetown’s University Avenue as a demonstration later this month, and T3 Transit hopes to have electric buses permanently in its fleet by 2020.

The New Flyer bus will take charge of T3’s Route 1 on March 27.

“The electric bus, we believe, is definitely the future,” said T3 owner Mike Cassidy.

There are several things T3 hopes to learn while the New Flyer bus is on the Island. First up is a chance to see how the bus runs in real world conditions.

“We understand how far you can go with a tank of gasoline or a tank of diesel, but now we have an electric charge. We want to see how a bus performs with an electric motor,” said Cassidy.

“We want to see how far you can go.”

T3 drivers will also get a chance to see how the bus handles moving up the hill towards Charlottetown Mall, both empty and full.

Equally important will be giving T3 mechanics an opportunity to look the bus over. Cassidy said in a changeover to electric buses, training for mechanics is one of the major barriers.

The range is right

Cassidy said the New Flyer buses are rated to go 200 to 225 kilometers on a full charge, and that’s a perfect fit for the T3 system.

“That’s the beauty of Stratford, Cornwall Charlottetown. All of our transit routes will fall within that 200/225 kilometers per day. We can send the bus out, and when the bus finishes its route at the end of the day it can come back,” he said.

“We can plug it in overnight and it’s ready to go out the next morning.”

Another potential barrier is electric buses cost more than diesel buses, but as members of the Canadian Urban Transit Research and Innovation Consortium, the three municipalities will be able to purchase electric buses for the same price as diesel ones.

Cassidy said if things progress well with New Flyer, he would like to see two to three electric buses in the T3 fleet by 2020. He said he is also investigating electric motor coaches for Maritime Bus Company, which operates intercity service in the Maritimes.

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