Three Atlantic provinces launch electric school bus feasibility study
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Feb 26, 2024
Emma Jarratt

With $495,000 in funding, the study will develop a roadmap with a goal of transitioning over 2,800 school buses to electric power

New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador are undertaking a government-funded Atlantic Electric School Bus feasibility study. The goal is to achieve a cleaner, more sustainable future for school transportation in Atlantic Canada.

With $495,000 in funding, the study will develop a roadmap with a goal of transitioning over 2,800 school buses to electric power

New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador are undertaking a government-funded Atlantic Electric School Bus feasibility study. The goal is to achieve a cleaner, more sustainable future for school transportation in Atlantic Canada.

The three provinces, along with the federal government, are putting a combined $495,000 into the study. The intended outcome, reads press materials, is to develop a roadmap “that will enhance the provinces’ knowledge of zero-emission transportation.”

The goal is to encourage adoption of zero-emission school buses in the provinces.

“Transitioning to electric school buses represents a significant step in curbing greenhouse gas emissions, improving air quality, and helping integrate environmentally friendly technologies in the transportation sector. We will continue working with partners across the country to reduce carbon emissions and advance a more sustainable transportation system,” reads a press comment from Sean Fraser, the federal minister of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities.

Funding breakdown and targets

The federal government is shouldering the majority of the cost of the study through its Zero-Emission Transit Fund (ZETF). The ZETF is contributing $396,000, while the Council of Atlantic Ministers of Education and Training is contributing $99,000.

The ZETF started in 2021. Its mandate is to invest $2.75 billion over five years “to support public transit and school bus operators plan for electrification, support the purchase of 5,000 zero-emission buses and build supporting infrastructure, including charging infrastructure and facility upgrades.”

The three Atlantic provinces each have zero-emission school bus targets they are looking to achieve:

  • Newfoundland and Labrador are looking to transition up to 326 school buses to electric power;
  • New Brunswick up to 1,250 school buses; and
  • Nova Scotia up to 1,300 school buses.

PEI leading the way

Prince Edward Island has been deploying electric school buses since March 2021.

The province has 107 electric school buses on the road (out of a total fleet of 360), according to government data.

But the buses may do more than take students too and from school.

Some of PEI’s LionC electric school buses may provide vehicle-to-grid (V2G) power in emergencies to North Rustico Lions Club.

North Rustico Lions Club
North Rustico Lions Club warming centre may be powered by electric school buses in future emergencies. Photo: Electric Autonomy

Electric Autonomy went to the Club, which is used as a warming centre in power outages and emergencies, in summer 2023. However there were no signs that the building was being prepared to accommodate V2G.

Subsequent conversations with Lion Electric confirmed there were no further announcements at the time.

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