In The News

How technology, infrastructure, vehicles and people are coming together to achieve Canada’s zero-emission future

CUTA’s Urban Mobility Forum

By Jennifer McNeill, Vice President, Sales and Marketing (Public Sector), New Flyer and MCI

AS CANADA’S PUBLIC transit industry evolves to meet net-zero emission goals, it is both an incredibly complex undertaking as well as a historic opportunity to be at the forefront of global climate action initiatives. Meeting net-zero emission goals involves far more than just buying new vehicles; behind every zero-emission bus (“ZEB”), there is also infrastructure, technology and people needed to support it, and agencies must think about all these aspects to be fully prepared.

Because of these complexities, no agency can do this alone, which is why partnerships are an essential component to ensuring projects and plans are successful. There are several Canadian, North American and global organizations at the forefront of such partnerships including the Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA), the Canadian Urban Transit Research & Innovation Consortium (CUTRIC), Accelerate, CALSTART, Information Technology for Public Transit (ITxTP) and the Center for Transportation and the Environment (CTE). It is their programs, such as the Pan-Canadian Battery-Electric Bus Demonstration and Integration Trial, the Alberta Zero-Emission Hydrogen Transit project, Canada’s ZEV Supply Chain Alliance, and the Global Commercial Vehicle Drive to Zero™ that are helping Canada reach its goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.

As agencies think about the other critical components – infrastructure and technology, workforce and vehicles – there are many potential partners to engage with and opportunities to take advantage of. New Flyer and MCI – under the umbrella of NFI Group – have grown our offerings to ensure agencies have a wide breadth of products and services that will enable them to reach these goals. And whether an agency chooses to partner with us or others, it will be essential they consider all of these components.


The infrastructure needed to “fuel” ZEBs is an essential component of any new zero-emission project. Through NFI Infrastructure Solutions™, we have offered a full suite of comprehensive charging system development services that have helped agencies across Canada navigate the intricacies of charger support and commissioning, infrastructure planning and development, and more. Such agencies include Kingston, Toronto Transit Commission, York Region, Translink, the Société de Transport de Montréal, and the Société de Transport de Laval, who have all implemented chargers and/or commissioning with NFI Infrastructure Solutions™ to support their initiatives of transitioning to a battery-electric bus fleet.

Whereas NFI Connect™ and Connect 360™, our advanced telematics solution and customizable performance dashboard, are helping customers get real-time oversight of entire fleets, which is critical to keeping fleets moving and assessing the success of the various components of zero-emission project implementations.


The dramatic changes in vehicles and infrastructure require retraining and education for the people working with the vehicles as well – a bus today is a piece of technology – and staff must be trained appropriately. New Flyer and MCI have helped agencies retrain their workforce with a variety of in-house resources. At the Vehicle Innovation Center in Anniston, Alabama, we have delivered interactive experiences to foster dialogue through discussion and education on the latest zero-emission, connected, and autonomous driving vehicle technologies. The New Flyer Institute and the award-winning MCI Academy have provided in-depth, world-class and personalized training to customers, whether that be new skill sets such as electrification and digitalization or improving existing skill sets.


And of course, the vehicles themselves are changing dramatically as well; they are the key drivers to enabling cities to lower emissions, decrease congestion and enable economic opportunity. For more than 50 years, New Flyer has been committed to continuing the innovation needed to deliver smarter, safer, more sustainable, and more connected public transportation and has offered Canadian transit agencies the widest range of propulsions, in the most lengths, including zero-emission electric (trolley, battery, and fuel cell), and low-emission natural gas, electric hybrid, and clean diesel.

The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) was an early adopter, ordering 10 battery-electric buses in 2018 for a head-to-head trial with two other candidates to assist TTC and the greater public transportation community with the development of bus specifications and the integration of future electric-bus procurements. Also in 2018, Montreal and Laval made history with an order of 40 battery-electric buses, the largest battery-electric bus order at that time.

In partnership with CUTRIC, New Flyer has delivered battery-electric vehicles to York Region Transit, Brampton and TransLink. And in April 2022, New Flyer announced new firm orders from TTC and MiWay for hybrid-electric heavy-duty transit buses as part of their transition plan to a zero-emission fleet.

Every day we continue working to help transform Canada’s aging transit systems to our latest mobility technologies. The most recently announced Canadian order was in our own backyard where Winnipeg Transit, which currently operates a fully diesel fleet, placed a firm order earlier this year for both electric and fuel cell buses.

The new mobility era is just beginning, and we are at the forefront of change. Our mobility solutions are on the road in Canada now, and we look forward to future deployments as the adoption of low- and zero-emissions technologies grows.

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