Transit Cape Breton is set to buy the first six of 44 electric buses that will help it hit its net-zero by 2030 target, thanks to C$54 million invested jointly by the federal and provincial governments and the Cape Breton Regional Municipality (CBRM).
The funding injection will also allow the transit agency, which serves residents in and around Sydney, Nova Scotia, to install e-bus charging infrastructure and upgrade its bus maintenance facility, states an Infrastructure Canada release.
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“Transportation is Nova Scotia’s second-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions,” said local MLA John White. “Moving to electric transit systems reduces emissions, creates healthier communities, and supports our goal of reaching net-zero by 2050.”
Ottawa took on a major share of the investment with $21.6 million, the province invested nearly $18 million, and CBRM contributed nearly $14.4 million.
“This is taking a monumental step towards a greener and more sustainable future,” said Cape Breton Mayor Amanda McDougall. “None of this can happen without true collaboration between all levels of government.”
The remaining 38 buses will be phased in over the next six years, but doesn’t necessarily mean that Transit Cape Breton will reach net-zero by 2030, given that Nova Scotia still depends on fossil fuels for 60% of its power generation, writes Electric Autonomy.
But since withdrawing from the planned Atlantic Loop, through which the province would have imported hydroelectric power from Quebec, the Tim Houston government has been pursuing other decarbonization efforts, including a plan to build 1,000 megawatts of new onshore wind capacity by 2030—enough to meet 50% of the province’s current electricity demand.
To achieve 80% renewables, Nova Scotia is pursuing solar, battery storage, electrification, and load management, among other plans. And newly-unveiled amendments to the Nova Scotia Electricity Act will enable the province to exceed its 2030 clean power target, said Natural Resources and Renewables Minister Tory Rushton.
McDougall noted the changing fortunes of transit in the region at the e-bus announcement held at Cape Breton University (CBU), reported CBC News.
Just four or five years ago, “transit was potentially on the chopping block because it was doing so poorly,” she said. Now, the addition of thousands of students at CBU has proven a dependable source of rider revenue, CBC writes.
McDougall said Transit Cape Breton’s far-flung and significantly rural route will pose challenges to its electric fleet ambitions, as will the teething pains of learning how to operate e-buses in Cape Breton’s cooler winters. But the municipality really has no choice in the matter.
Pointing to the increasing difficulty of getting diesel buses serviced, and the fact that Ottawa no longer offers subsidies to buy them, McDougall said that “now is the time” to electrify the fleet.