Ontario begins first-of-its-kind, $40M electric bus tests

Ontario begins first-of-its-kind, $40M electric bus tests

NEWMARKET, Ont.—The Canadian Urban Transit Research and Innovation Consortium (CUTRIC) with its partners in Brampton and the Regional Municipality of York, have launched the Pan-Canadian Electric Bus Demonstration & Integration Trial: Phase I.

The trials are part of a national coordinated effort to advance zero-emissions transit technology.

The project combines manufacturers, transit agencies, utilities, funding partners, research teams and technology developers to ensure a world-leading demonstration trial with TransLink in Vancouver, B.C., and now with Brampton Transit and the Regional Municipality of York, with Brampton Transit the first to initiate and champion the national trial planning process back in 2016.

“With this visionary funding investment, we are launching the Pan-Canadian Electric Bus Demonstration & Integration Trial: Phase I – which has a national project value of $40 Million and encompasses 18 standardized and interoperable electric buses, seven standardized and interoperable overhead chargers, and on five routes in three cities,” says CUTRIC Executive Director & CEO Josipa Petrunic. “Today’s funding announcement by the Province of Ontario is building the future of low-carbon smart mobility in this country.”

The project integrates competitive bus manufacturers with competitive charging station manufacturers, all of which are designing and delivering interoperable high-powered charging systems for on-route charged electric buses across multiple municipalities and utility jurisdictions.

“It is the first global standardization trial that integrates more than one bus manufacturer and more than one charging system manufacturer,” says Petrunic. “This type of collaboration, standardization and integration is proving to the country, and to the world, that transit agencies can be at the forefront of technology development and job creation. And it’s happening in Canada first.”

Brampton Transit, York Region Transit and TransLink are working with two Canadian transit vehicle manufacturers (New Flyer Industries of Winnipeg, Man. and Nova Bus, of St. Eustache, Que.) and two charging station manufacturers (ABB Group and Siemens Canada) to deploy four electric buses and two overhead electric charging stations that plug into an open protocol known as the OppCharge protocol, first jointly developed by Siemens and Volvo Bus Corp.

BusThe protocol standardizes the design of the off-board pantograph that connects the high-powered charging station to the bus, communications between the bus and the charger, and performance metrics of the overall system.

“This project is also unique in that it is the first electric bus collaboration in which a utility—in this case Newmarket-Tay Power Distribution Ltd—is purchasing an on-route charging station on behalf of its local transit agency,” adds Petrunic. “The launch of a new business model that puts a utility at the forefront of electric transit operation and service delivery will highlight Canada as a global leader in electric vehicle innovation.”

The project will continue to attract electric vehicle manufacturing in Canada among heavy-duty platform designers and manufacturers – helping to grow jobs in the low-carbon economy nationally.

“To get this project going we had to sell a vision to a lot of sceptics. The vision is one in which publicly shared mobility services, like transit, can be faster, cheaper and greener than automobiles in all jurisdictions of the country in the future,” continues Petrunic. “Brampton, York Region and TransLink bought into that vision with us, and today’s announcement is the first step in a multi-year effort to make it a reality.”

“This is good news for Canadian job growth in the manufacturing and tech sectors which must demonstrate that their e-buses and e-chargers work seamlessly with one another wherever they are used,” states Petrunic. “Growth in skilled trades will be aligned to electric bus manufacturing by Nova Bus and New Flyer, charging system innovation by ABB Group and Siemens, and electric mobility maintenance support in Canada.”

The trial will also integrate neutral third-party vehicle and systems analyses by the National Research Council of Canada.

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