New Flyer and Nova Bus zero-emission buses
New Flyer and Nova Bus zero-emission buses. Photo credit: Sonia Sidhu

Universities, research institutes to collaborate in study of performance potential of electric and hydrogen buses, cybersecurity measures and more

The Canadian Urban Transit Research & Innovation Consortium (CUTRIC) has announced that it will lead North America’s first academic cluster dedicated to researching zero emissions buses, in partnership with seven research institutes based across Canada.

Primary areas to be targeted by National Academic Committee on Zero-Emissions Buses (NAC-ZEB) research will include electric and hydrogen bus performance visualization, bus powertrain optimizations and anti-hacking cybersecurity strategies. The research will be funded by $4.2 million contributed by CUTRIC and the research institutions over three years; an additional $551,000 will be provided by Mitacs’ federally funded Accelerate and Elevate programs.

The participating research institutions will be Queen’s University, OCAD University, University of Windsor, Ontario Tech University, York University, Centennial College, and Canadian Nuclear Laboratories.

“Our work will remove the barriers of uncertainty and high risk associated with the adoption of electrified propulsion technologies”

Josipa Petrunic, Executive Director and CEO, CUTRIC

“Our consortium provides the data-driven insights required by… governments to implement electric bus fleets in a way that saves tax dollars over the long-term and improves transit to make it the primary choice for mobility for Canadians in the future,” said Josipa Petrunic, executive director and CEO of CUTRIC. 

“Our work will remove the barriers of uncertainty and high risk associated with the adoption of electrified propulsion technologies.”

Municipal potential

The announcement came Friday morning, from the Rosalie Sharp Pavilion at OCAD University. Alongside representatives from each institution was Ruby Sahota, federal Member of Parliament for Brampton North.

“The NAC-ZEB project is playing a key role in moving Canada to the forefront of the shift to electrified public transit, a key priority of our government,” said Sahota.

“For a transit network like Brampton Transit which is facing a rapid increase in ridership, the adoption of e-buses will benefit the entire community by reducing fuel consumption, vehicle emissions and traffic congestion, and improve the quality of life for my residents.”

CUTRIC’s predictive research has previously supported the implementation of electric buses in municipalities including Vancouver, Brampton, and the York Region. It has also supported the feasibility assessment of the full electrification of the TTC’s bus fleet, which is targeted to occur by 2040.

Guelph, Ontario recently announced its plan to invest $104 million to electrify much of its bus fleet. Saskatoon also recently commissioned a pilot project which will examine the potential of doing the same; other Canadian cities whose public transit fleets have BEVs or hybrids among their ranks include Vancouver, Victoria, and Edmonton.

CUTRIC launch of zero emission electric buses research cluster
Left to Right: Adi Ramesh (Commercialization Project Manager, CUTRIC), Professor Jeremy Bowes (OCAD University), MP Ruby Sahota (Member of Parliament for Brampton North), Dr. Josipa Petrunic (Executive Director & CEO, CUTRIC), Dr. Sara Diamond (President, OCAD University), Marco D’Angela (President & CEO, Canadian Urban Transit Association)