Hoping to increase mobility for residents while eliminating transit emissions and slashing energy costs, a transit company in rural Quebec is switching its entire fleet to electric buses.
Low density and a lack of infrastructure make such a transition difficult and costly for rural administrative regions like Gaspésie–Îles-de-la-Madeleine, which branches across Quebec’s eastern coast. But local transit operator La Régie intermunicipale de transport Gaspésie–Îles-de-la-Madeleine (RÉGÎM) received C$1.75 million from the federal government and the Green Municipal Fund (GMF) to help it buy 21 electric buses, including 10 paratransit vehicles, and build 12 charging stations along its 18 routes.
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RÉGÎM transports 75,000 to 80,000 people annually, and covers approximately 600,000 kilometres each year as is shuttles between communities. Once up and humming, its new fleet is expected to slash transit emissions by 98%, drop energy use 72%, and reduce energy costs by 64%, according to the GMF. “The redesign of the network could result in increased mobility for the population, thereby supporting job creation and the economy.”
Accrued savings from operating e-buses rather than gasoline ones should also help increase service and frequency throughout the region, RÉGÎM Director Marie-Andrée Pichette told Radio Gaspésie back in 2019.
With e-buses and charging stations budgeted at $7 million, the project had stalled for several years due to lack of funding. One stumbling block was that RÉGÎM was ineligible for transition funding that Quebec offered back in 2019. The provincial funds were available only for publicly-owned buses, and at last report, RÉGÎM’s gasoline-powered fleet was contracted out between six private companies.
It is not clear whether this situation has changed or whether RÉGÎM has been able to secure funding from the province by other means. The story will be updated as more information becomes available.