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St. Albert plans electric bus trial

Trial of alternative energy bus planned for August

By: Victoria Paterson

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Jul 02, 2014 06:00 am

ELECTRIFYING - St. Albert Transit plans to use ETS Stealth bus for own electric bus trial this summer.
ELECTRIFYING - St. Albert Transit plans to use ETS Stealth bus for own electric bus trial this summer.
Supplied photo

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St. Albert Transit plans to try out an electric bus on some of its routes in August.

“We’ve been working with Edmonton on this project,” said St. Albert transit director Bob McDonald. “They’re going to let us use one of these buses for two weeks in August to trial in our system.”

Edmonton Transit System recently launched its own trial of leased electric buses they’re calling ETS Stealth. The pilot will run until October.

McDonald travelled to Montreal earlier this year to check out their electric buses.

After that research the conclusion was they’d like to trial the bus here.

“Our plan was that we were going to run it on a variety of routes,” he said. “We would be circulating it on the same routes that the 40-foot buses are currently on.”

Trying out different routes would give passengers and drivers a chance to see what the electric bus is like.

The buses are the same size as the 40-foot buses currently in use at St. Albert Transit, and McDonald noted they’re low-floor buses like St. Albert’s fleet as well.

Part of the trial will be servicing the buses here in St. Albert. The buses will be charged overnight.

After St. Albert and Edmonton’s trials, they’ll look at the results, including feedback and cost projections.

McDonald said one of the driving factors for exploring the change would be potential energy savings.

“The main reason is economy. If these are successful and we can buy them the same way we buy the 12-metre buses we have now we expect that our energy costs are going to be substantially less,” he said.

There could be some decrease in greenhouse gas emissions, though McDonald pointed out that most electricity in Alberta comes by way of coal-burning power, so switching to electric wouldn’t cut out emissions entirely.

However, the buses would not be emitting gases on their routes since they’d be entirely powered by electricity.

“I think overall it’s a net reduction,” McDonald said.

Riding an electric bus will sound different from a gas-powered ride, McDonald said. “It’s more of a whir.”

McDonald said the details haven’t been confirmed yet, but there’s a chance there won’t be a fare box on the bus so some riders might get a chance to try it out for free.

Linda Kadatz, a division supervisor at Edmonton Transit, said so far that city’s pilot, which launched in June, is doing well.

While it’s too early for quantitative results, Kadatz said so far feedback from the public has been positive.

“They are quite taken with it,” she said.

Some comments have noted cosmetic differences – such as a different seating arrangement – but Kadatz said the leased buses haven’t been formatted to Edmonton’s specifications.

“Those are the things that you change when you actually make your order and bring in your own bus,” she said.

“It’s an exciting start to something that I think is a change for public transit in general.”


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