Cape Breton road
Cape Breton Island is one of Canada’s most iconic landscapes and, soon, visitors will be able to see a new addition to the dramatic coastal environment: electric buses. Photo: Electric Autonomy

Transit Cape Breton has secured $54 million from three levels of government to purchase six electric buses, charging infrastructure and refurbish its bus maintenance depot

Cape Breton Island is one of Canada’s most iconic landscapes and, soon, visitors will be able to see a new addition to the dramatic coastal environment: electric buses.

Transit Cape Breton, which operates in and around Sydney, N.S., is receiving $54 million to purchase six electric buses, install charging infrastructure and refurbish its bus depot.

“Transportation is Nova Scotia’s second-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, and we need to change that,” said John White, MLA for Glace Bay-Dominion, in the province’s announcement.

Phased adoption

While Transit Cape Breton’s initial purchase of the buses is a small number, the full plan is for the fleet to transition to 44 electric buses and be net zero by 2030.

The refurbishment of the depot will also occur in the last phase of the transition.

In total, the federal government will invest $21,600,000, the province will invest $17,998,200 and Cape Breton Regional Municipality will contribute $14,401,800.

“This is taking a monumental step towards a greener and more sustainable future.  None of this can happen without true collaboration between all levels of government,” said Amanda McDougall-Merrill, mayor of Cape Breton Regional Municipality.

Power challenges

While Transit Cape Breton’s electric buses signal another step towards a cleaner future for the region, questions remain about the origins of the electricity to power them.

Currently Nova Scotia generates 60 per cent of its power by burning fossil fuels.

Earlier this year Nova Scotia withdrew from a large energy decarbonization scheme dubbed the Atlantic Loop. The proposed plan would have seen power sent from Quebec and, possibly, Newfoundland and Labrador into Nova Scotia.

The hope was that the Atlantic Loop would help Nova Scotia decarbonize its grid by 2030.

Nova Scotia has since said it will focus on creating more wind and solar energy supplies in the province, but no formal plan has been detailed.