City of Saint John leases six electric buses to launch on-demand transit service
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Jul 5, 2022
Katie Ingram

The buses, acquired from Damera Bus Sales, will go into service starting in September, and mark the New Brunswick city’s first steps towards having a fully electric transit fleet by 2040

The City of Saint John recently unveiled its first E-Jest electric bus, one of six electric buses that will go into service in the fall. Photo: Saint John

The buses, acquired from Damera Bus Sales, will go into service starting in September and mark the New Brunswick city’s first steps towards having a fully electric transit fleet by 2040

Six electric buses and a more inclusive, accessible transit project are coming to Saint John, N.B., this fall.

In late June, the city unveiled the first of six Karsan e-JEST buses from Damera Bus Sales Canada Corp. that it will be adding to its fleet starting this September. The additions are part of the city’s Transforming Transit Program which includes a goal of having an entirely carbon-neutral electric bus fleet by 2040. The e-JEST is a 20-foot, battery-powered, 15-year life cycle bus made by Karsan, a manufacturer in Turkey.

“We are excited to bring the newest in electric bus technology to Canada and help put it into service here in Saint John,” said Roger D’Hollander, chief operating office of Damera, based in Mississauga, Ont., in a press release. “Transitioning to clean transportation is the right thing to do for our health and environment, and it’s the smart thing to do for our communities in terms of efficiency and cost savings.”

The buses have a range of 210 kilometres and a regenerative braking system that recovers energy to recharge batteries at a rate of 25 per cent.

On-demand service launch

Along with reducing its carbon footprint, Saint John is looking to make bus service more accessible, and it plans to use the electric buses to launch an on-demand service for low-ridership areas. This means that users can request a bus up to 48 hours in advance or as soon as they need it.

Ian Fogan, director of transit and fleet, City of Saint John. Photo: Saint John

“The bus could be right around the corner, picking up somebody else. And then all of a sudden, in real time, the bus driver be alerted that there’s now a new service request. And now you need to pick up somebody else,” says Ian Fogan, director of transit and fleet for the City of Saint John, in an interview with Electric Autonomy Canada.

The benefit of the on-demand option is that buses aren’t on the roads for just a few passengers, and it can help cut down commute times. Instead of a bus stopping at every stop or going a certain route, it will only stop at the requested stops both for pick up and drop off. According to Fogan, this means a one-hour circular route could change to a “straight, five-minute trip.”

“Customers will enjoy the luxury of riding new, electric buses, and also have a highly reliable service that allows them to schedule the arrival of their bus and know when it will deliver them to their destination,” said Nick Cameron, chair of the Saint John Transit Commission, in a release.

Fixed route integration

The on-demand system will also be integrated with the city’s existing fixed route service.

“If you wanted to link up with your fixed route buses, there’s two ways of doing it: you can say I want to be picked up at a certain time, or you can say I want to be at a bus stop at a certain time,” Fogan says.

Initially, the buses are being leased for 12 to 18 months, each for a cost of about $4,500 per month. This way, Fogan says, they’ll be able to see how they work through “all four seasons.” The city has an option to purchase the buses at the end of that lease.

The city plans to replace its other buses with various size electric buses as they reach the end of the life cycles.

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