MPP Stephen Crawford and MPP Effie Triantafilopoulos, with oakville transit
MPP Stephen Crawford (far left) and MPP Effie Triantafilopoulos (far right)

Ontario town’s efforts to decarbonize and modernize its transit fleet — one of several recent regional and national e-bus deals — will move ahead with substantial provincial and federal funding

The town of Oakville, just west of Toronto, has announced plans to replace 57 of its existing diesel buses with fully battery-electric buses over the next six years, in addition to purchasing 16 additional electric buses to expand its transit fleet. The project, with a price tag of more than $66 million, is backstopped by multiple levels of government funding, and heralds a multi-year transition towards reducing the town’s transit emissions.

Along with the buses, Oakville has committed to a total of 14 projects in support of the greening and modernization of its transit fleets. Those efforts will also include the installation of 32 charging stations to support the e-buses, the addition of Wi-Fi connectivity to 127 buses and the upgrading of 249 bus stops with ramps and landing pads to ensure full user accessibility.

Cost savings, quieter streets

“Replacing diesel buses with zero-emission battery-electric buses will reduce operation and maintenance costs, and provide quieter bus operations in the community and reduce the fleet’s carbon footprint,” said Pam Damoff, Member of Parliament for Oakville North–Burlington, in a statement marking the announcement.

“This funding will also accelerate the accessibility of transit stops. Investments in safe, environmentally friendly public transit projects like the ones we are announcing today are critical to supporting a healthy, sustainable, inclusive and accessible community.”

“Public transit allows Canadians to get around in cheaper, cleaner and faster ways,” added Catherine McKenna, federal minister of Infrastructure and Communities. “The investment in new buses, charging stations, onboard Wi-Fi and scheduling software in Oakville will improve the quality of lives for residents, get cars off the road and help electrify their transit systems.”

Three levels of government

The budgetary breakdown is as follows: $17.6 million from the town of Oakville; $22.1 million from the Ontario government; and $26.5 million from the federal government. The source of the federal contribution is its Investing in Canada infrastructure plan, an initiative announced in 2016 to invest $180 billion over 12 years towards projects that will support economic growth and decarbonization across the country.

In announcing the deal, Oakville joins nearby Guelph and Brampton on a growing list of Greater Toronto Area municipalities to buy electric buses. Nationally, Halifax and Edmonton have made similar moves. Other Canadian cities with hybrid or electric buses in their fleets include Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Victoria.