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Bus mogul Mike Cassidy bringing electric motorcoach to P.E.I. for test drive

Mike Cassidy, who owns the Coach Atlantic motorcoach service and T3 Transit, is bringing an electric motorcoach to P.E.I. in March for a test drive and to show government officials. He said the push is on to switch to electric, but he reminds people that the transition doesn’t happen overnight and is expensive. Dave Stewart/The Guardian
Mike Cassidy, who owns the Coach Atlantic motorcoach service and T3 Transit, is bringing an electric motorcoach to P.E.I. in March for a test drive and to show government officials. He said the push is on to switch to electric, but he reminds people that the transition doesn’t happen overnight and is expensive. Dave Stewart/The Guardian

Mike Cassidy wants to show how serious he is about moving to electric buses.

The owner of the Maritime Coach Atlantic motorcoach service, as well as T3 Transit which services the greater Charlottetown area, will make Canadian history in March.

Coach Atlantic Maritime Bus will be the first company in Canada to test drive the 100 per cent battery electric motorcoach. The demo will take place on P.E.I. on Monday, March 9, and will be followed by test drives in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia on the following two days.

“I just got back from a motorcoach show and, in my opinion, the timing of electric on P.E.I. or in the Maritimes, is going to be sooner rather than later – that’s how I see it,’’ Cassidy told The Guardian on Thursday. “It’s going to happen.’’

This bus will feature a low vestibule and a door on the middle where a ramp rolls out for wheelchairs. The motorcoaches that are in use now have a lift and a ramp that takes wheelchairs up to the second-floor seating level. The demo bus features seating with windows and visibility on the ground floor of the vehicle.

“I think this speaks volumes as to what we’re trying to do and how we speak to the industry and to the environment,’’ Cassidy said.

“We’re taking this electric (option) seriously."


Did you know?

  • The cost to purchase a full size diesel motorcoach is $750,000. The cost for an electric one is $1.4 million
  • The cost to purchase a diesel transit bus is $500,550. The cost for an electric one is $1 million
  • In 2019, T3 Transit had close to 700,000 passenger fares in Charlottetown, close to 50,000 in Stratford and about 21,000 in Cornwall
  • A full-sized motorcoach electric bus will be on P.E.I. for a demonstration on Monday, March 9

Following the test trip through the Maritimes, the bus will go back into the research facility for the next nine months. Electric motorcoaches will go on the market in 2021. However, it’s about double the cost of a bus that runs on diesel.

Cassidy is inviting members of the provincial government to the demo show on March 9 in hopes of making it look like a worthy investment.

Cassidy was presented with the 2020 United Motorcoach Association’s environmental sustainability award for a broad suite of practices, including the idle-free driver training program used by Coach Atlantic, for advocating for electric buses and for actively supporting alternative fuel research.

Cassidy is also pushing to bring electric buses to his T3 Transit fleet.

T3 is awaiting the arrival of six diesel buses, but Cassidy said he will be putting in another order this summer or fall for two or three buses for arrival in 2022.

“It is quite possible,’’ Cassidy said when asked if they would be electric. “I am hoping we can all learn from this demo (and that) it may help us with our decision with transit in our municipalities.’’

T3 brought in a 40-foot electric demo in September 2018 to rave reviews from customers. Cassidy said there are currently no electric buses in use in the Maritimes.

“We’re taking this electric (option) seriously,’’ he said, adding that the company that supplies his companies also wants to move in that direction.

Twitter.com/DveStewart

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