A Bixi electric bike

The City of Montreal continues to go big on clean transit, with an “audacious” plan that earmarks nearly $900 million for charging infrastructure, new electric vehicles and zero-emission public transportation

In a lengthy, 50-page strategy tabled this week, Montreal’s municipal officials detailed how the city will be upping its commitment to electrification through a series of 23 goals to be implemented over the next three years.

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante says the plan will cost $885 million and will result in improvements including beginning this year including: 30 long-range, slow-charging electric public buses and an unspecified number of mid-range electric buses; upgrades to bus depots to allow for more fleet charging; adding 2,100 Bixi e-bikes; 250 electric taxis, 600 new charging stations and initiatives like giving electric vehicles priority parking in metered areas, transitioning the municipal vehicle fleet to 47 per cent electric by 2030 and supporting business and multi-unit residential buildings to acquire charging stations.

On Twitter, Plante wrote, “One week after the IPCC’s alarming report on climate change, I am proud to present, with my colleague @sophiemauzeroll, an audacious plan for the electrification of transport, which will be deployed over 3 years.”

Low Emission Zone pilot in 2023

Within Montreal’s investment strategy is a nod to one of the city’s most cutting-edge goals: “Prepare for the deployment” of a Low Emission Zone (LEZ) pilot program in 2023.

Low Emission Zones (also called Zero-Emission Zones or Areas) are areas designated as emissions-free, noise-free spaces where only zero-emission transportation methods are permitted. Studies have found that LEZs around the world have resulted in the reduction of “more than 70% of local road-transport-related emissions and more than 50% of key air pollutants.”

Plante announced last December that Montreal was considering making its downtown a LEZ by 2030. The initiative was part of Montreal’s Climate Plan 2020-2030, which was criticized at the time as being “greenwashing” because it was non-binding and many of the proposals did not have dates attached to them.

However, the latest announcement, with a heavy emphasis on electric buses and bikes in in the city centre along with the confirmation of a pilot program date, indicates the plan for a LEZ may be more advanced than originally thought.

It has not yet been confirmed what streets or neighbourhoods will be part of the first LEZ pilot.