ABB to supply 66 e-bus charging systems to seven Ontario transit agencies
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Jun 6, 2024
Mehanaz Yakub

The bulk purchase of the ABB chargers is part of the comprehensive six-phase transit fleet electrification plan from provincial agency Metrolinx

ABB E-Mobility has secured a contract to supply charging systems for electrified buses to seven Ontario transit agencies. Photo: Metrolinx

The bulk purchase of the ABB chargers is part of a comprehensive six-phase transit fleet electrification plan run by provincial agency, Metrolinx

ABB E-Mobility has secured a contract from Metrolinx to supply charging systems for electrified buses to seven Ontario transit agencies.

The contract with ABB is part of a Transit Procurement Initiative (TPI) run by Metrolinx. The TPI helps municipalities across Ontario reduce costs by coordinating their transit purchases and deliveries. 

Metrolinx is an Ontario government agency responsible for enhancing the coordination and integration of various transportation modes across the province. It is particularly active in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton areas.

As part of this agreement, ABB E-mobility will provide approximately 57 plug-in chargers and nine pantograph chargers to the transit agencies in Belleville, Brantford, Kingston, Milton, Stratford, Sudbury and Thunder Bay.

The chargers will all be in depots and have charging speeds of around 150 kW.

“The contract term runs for three years and agencies may purchase the equipment at any point during that period,” says a spokesperson for Metrolinx to Electric Autonomy.

(The deal also includes the option to purchase pantographs capable of delivering up to 600 kW for on-route charging. However, none of the participating transit agencies currently plan to install on-route pantographs, the spokesperson added.)

Metrolinx chose ABB E-mobility for the contract following a competitive public process in December 2023.

Metrolinx electrifying

In 2021, Metrolinx started researching the transition to electric transit vehicles and partnered with local transit agencies to buy buses.

Last October, a joint purchasing contract for 40 12-metre battery electric buses was awarded to Winnipeg-based manufacturer New Flyer.

The contract with New Flyer enables the same transit agencies involved in the charger procurement, along with those in Sault Ste. Marie, Barrie, and Leamington, to order new electric buses as part of a collective bulk purchase.

“As a smaller Transit Agency with limited resources from a procurement standpoint we find TPI a supportive, important and beneficial partner,” says Michael Mousley, manager of transit for the City of Stratford in a statement.

“The transition from fossil fuel fleet to electrification, whether procuring a consultant to provide feasibility studies, or sourcing and incorporating battery electric buses and charging infrastructure, TPI has been of great value.”

Buying in bulk

The TPI began 2006. It has since coordinated 27 collaborative procurements involving 54 transit agencies, primarily for diesel or diesel-electric hybrid buses.

Metrolinx now collaborates with transit agencies of all sizes across Ontario through TPI to facilitate joint purchases for electric fleets.

In 2023-2024, the TPI team managed the procurement of buses and transit-related goods and services worth $200 million on behalf of 22 municipal transit purchasers, resulting in savings of over $17.6 million for Ontario taxpayers, according to Metrolinx.

“Purchasing transit equipment in larger quantities for multiple local Ontario transit agencies helps to keep costs down and allows Metrolinx to negotiate better terms than if the purchases happened individually,” says the Metrolinx spokesperson.

The TPI includes a six-phase battery electric bus joint procurement roadmap. This most recent contract to purchase ABB chargers satisfies the third phase.

Next phases of the roadmap

With phase three of the TPI now complete, phases four and five are underway.

Phase four in the fleet electrification roadmap involves a joint purchasing contract for smaller, specialized electric buses. These include paratransit buses, on-demand services, and shuttle applications.

Phase five will consist of a full turn-key package for electric bus charging.

“The current charging stations joint purchase is meant to support transit agencies with an immediate need for chargers for electric buses they already have or will purchase, whereas the turn-key package is a longer-term solution where agencies will outsource the design, build, procurement and maintenance of the chargers and electrical equipment to an external vendor to manage,” explains Metrolinx on its website.

The final phase, phase six, will focus on the joint procurement of 30-35 foot electric buses. Where these buses will deploy is yet to be announced.

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