Canadian transit agencies are in line to receive C$2.7 billion in new federal funding over five years to begin converting their diesel fleets to electric buses.
Federal Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna made the announcement Thursday at the main bus garage in Ottawa. She said the funding comes on top of the $1.5 billion the Canada Infrastructure Bank earmarked for electric buses earlier this year.
The new money will pay for 5,000 zero-emission buses and charging equipment, the Ottawa Citizen reports.
“We need to reduce emissions in our transportation sector because it represents 25% of our emissions and we’ve committed to net-zero by 2050,” McKenna told the Globe and Mail. “But on the flip side, this is really an economic and jobs story for Canada. Because when we make these announcements, the companies that are the ones that are producing the buses are often Canadian.”
The $2.7 billion will come out of a larger pot of $5.9 billion in transit funding that Ottawa announced last month, the Globe says. While McKenna “said Canadian cities will not be required to buy Canadian-made buses,” the paper adds, “recent history indicates they are already buying from Canadian firms.”
Domestic manufacturers include Nova Bus Inc. in Saint-Eustache, QC, Lion Electric Co. in Saint-Jérôme, QC, NFI Group Inc. (formerly New Flyer Industries) in Winnipeg, and GreenPower Motor Co. Inc. in Vancouver.
“The procurements are done by the municipalities. But in Quebec, they are very focused on Quebec manufacturers,” McKenna said. “But the municipalities, they go out to tender, and they are finding that they are coming up with the Canadian manufacturers as the ones [with] the appropriate technology for them.”
In Ottawa, Mayor Jim Watson said the local transit commission, OC Transpo, is due to report this summer on the potential to add to the local electric bus fleet, on top of four test vehicles the city is buying from New Flyer this year. “To simply put our head in the sand and never be bold and always timid on trying new things, we’ll never come anywhere close to reducing our GHG count and really helping save our environment,” he told The Citizen.
Vehicles accounted for about 68% of the municipality’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2018, the paper says.