Zero Emission Bus Statement

In January 2020, Council approved the Climate Change Master Plan as the City’s overarching framework to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and respond to the current and future effects of climate change.  To meet the goals of the plan, the full electrification of public transit is necessary, and the transition to a full fleet of battery electric buses by 2036 along with expansion of the O-Train system moves the City in this direction

Last week, City Council approved a plan for OC Transpo to convert its bus fleet to zero-emission buses.  The project, pegged at a cost of $986 million, is contingent on securing a loan from the Canada Infrastructure Bank, which would cover the upfront premiums of buying the electric models over diesel standards, and a grant from Infrastructure Canada to cover 35-50 per cent of the costs.  The agreement with the CIB and potential Infrastructure Canada funding will offset any added capital costs for OC Transpo’s transition to battery-electric buses, and ensure the conversion is affordable under the City’s Long-Range Financial Plan for transit.

If funding is secured, OC Transpo will purchase 74 40-foot battery-electric buses and charging infrastructure as part of the City’s 2022 capital budget. OC Transpo aims to phase in 450 zero-emission buses by 2027 and have a fully electric bus fleet by 2036.

The recommendations of last week’s report are based on taking full advantage of the Infrastructure Canada and CIB programs to supplement the capital funding for bus fleet growth and replacement identified in the LRFP, with all of these funding sources working together to make possible the conversion to a zero-emission bus fleet. All of the costs in this report are preliminary and will be confirmed through the procurement and program management work that are described in the report.

As well, operating and maintenance costs are expected to be lower for battery-electric buses when compared to diesel. This allows OC Transpo to achieve the savings required to pay back the Canada Infrastructure Bank loan for the acquisition of buses and charging infrastructure. Based on the experiences of other transit agencies, staff forecast the cost to maintain a 40-foot battery-electric bus to be about 65 percent of the cost to maintain a diesel bus. Charging the battery-electric buses will cost about 40 percent of the cost to fuel diesel buses.

Council also passed a motion that city staff needs to confirm all zero-emission bus purchases meet the City’s operational needs, including functionality in Ottawa’s winter.  This means, city staff will report back and confirm these items meet the qualifications before a purchase would take place.

If you have any other questions, please feel free to reach out.