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Charlottetown-area municipalities examine feasibility of electric bus fleet

This is one of NewFlyer’s 40-foot electric buses. A 35-foot electric bus will be in Charlottetown operating on Route 1 later this month as part of a feasibility study on transitioning to electric buses in the capital region.
This is one of NewFlyer’s 40-foot electric buses. A 35-foot electric bus will be in Charlottetown operating on Route 1 later this month as part of a feasibility study on transitioning to electric buses in the capital region. - Submitted

T3 Transit customers and stakeholders will have an opportunity to travel on an electric bus this month as Charlottetown, Stratford and Cornwall partner with the public transport agency to conduct a market test and examine the feasibility of transitioning to an electric fleet.

The electric bus will travel along Route 1 on University Avenue on Tuesday, March 27.

During the demonstration, the bus will be part of the regularly scheduled route with the standard fare for a portion of the day.

Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee said these battery-electric transit buses are expected to reduce greenhouse gas and air contaminant emissions significantly.

“These are essentially zero-emission buses,’’ Lee said. “We couldn’t call ourselves a sustainable city if we didn’t at least explore the idea of running an electric fleet on P.E.I.’’

Poll: Should Charlottetown invest in electric buses? 

T3 Transit, Charlottetown, Stratford and Cornwall are working with Newflyer, a diesel bus manufacturer currently promoting a line of electric transit buses, on the demonstration. They will discuss the infrastructure needed to operate an electric fleet and the associated maintenance costs. Should the feasibility test prove positive, the three municipalities, along with T3 Transit, have an opportunity as members of the Canadian Urban Transit Research and Innovation Consortium (CUTRIC) to purchase electric buses for the same price as diesel thanks to funding offered by the national organization.

“If we are able to begin the transition to a fully electric fleet, it would contribute greatly to these outcomes as well as significantly lower the environmental impact of the transportation system. Definitely, we feel that electric buses are the way of the future.”
-Mike Cassidy

Stratford Mayor David Dunphy said since launching public transit in Stratford in 2008, the service has been improving continuously.

“With the recent improvements in battery and electrical technology, the feasibility of electric vehicles has improved,’’ Dunphy said.

Newflyer is undertaking a Maritime tour of Canada with their Xcelsior Charge electric bus to give municipalities and transit authorities the opportunity to experience an electric bus. On Wednesday, March 28, council representatives from each of the three municipalities, staff and other stakeholders, as well as media, can tour the bus and ask questions of the manufacturer.

Cornwall Coun. Peter Meggs said the town is excited by recent technological advances in the field of public transit.

It has been a busy year for T3 Transit. The public transport agency recently installed free Wi-Fi on all of its buses and updated its website for easier navigation and access to schedules. ReadyPass, a smart bus technology that provides data to operators for optimizing routes and schedules, will soon be available to all T3 Transit passengers and is currently in beta testing. New transit shelters were also recently installed.

Mike Cassidy, owner/operator of T3 Transit, said modernizing the transit service, improving rider experience and attracting new riders in the capital area has been the focus of these technological upgrades.

“If we are able to begin the transition to a fully electric fleet, it would contribute greatly to these outcomes as well as significantly lower the environmental impact of the transportation system,’’ Cassidy said.

“Definitely, we feel that electric buses are the way of the future.”

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