Burlington for Accessible Sustainable Transit
Burlington for Accessible Sustainable Transit

One step closer to electric buses in Burlington

Announcement of federal funding for electric buses

Josipa Petrunic (CUTRIC), Catherine Baldelli (Burlington Transit), MP Karina Gould, Ward 3 Councillor Rory Nisan

Burlington is one step closer to transitioning its Burlington Transit fleet of 65 conventional (diesel) and 14 specialized (handi-van) buses to fully electric vehicles. The federal government, as part of its $2.75 billion Zero Emission Transit infrastructure fund will be contributing $370,000 to the City of Burlington to support planning for the transition. The City of Burlington will top that off with $92,500.

The Hon. Karina Gould, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and member of Parliament for Burlington, made the announcement on behalf of the Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities in front of the Burlington Transit headquarters on Harvester Road August 11th.

“Vehicles on the road account for roughly twenty per cent of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada,” Gould said. “To reach our ambitious emissions reduction target of net-zero by 2050 we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector. That is why our government continues to make significant investment in zero-emissions transit infrastructure in communities throughout the country.

“This project will assist with the City’s development of the ability, implementation and market studies to support future procurement and deployment of zero-emission buses and related infrastructure. In March 2022 our government announced our partnership with CUTRIC to give transit operators the support they need to transition to zero-emission buses and more sustainable technologies. CUTRIC will work directly with the City of Burlington to complete planning work, sharing their knowledge, and supporting readiness to the transition.”

CUTRIC stands for Canadian Urban Transit Research & Innovation Consortium. CUTRIC offers research and consulting services to help transit agencies, utilities and other allied organizations to reach their decarbonization and electrification goals scientifically and neutrally.

President and CEO of CUTRIC, Josipa Petrunic explained, “Trying to figure out how to get electric buses out into a community, to make them work without running out of power, and make them work in a way that’s not going to break the bank, it’s really complicated. Because its not just about buying the buses, you have to buy all the chargers and all electrical and all the systems that go along with it.

“The announcement today is about getting to the next level of planning in Burlington. A partnership with London (Transit) will, for the first time ever in history, be a joint procurement of electric buses and a turnkey solution. Without the leadership of Burlington in doing this we would be far behind. We came up with this idea that we could get together with cities, jointly purchase items, drive up the volume, drive down the cost and make sure that we attracted private companies that would make sure it all works.”

Petrunic highlighted that other transit systems are trying different approaches to electrification transition with mixed results. While transit systems across Canada are ‘learning as they go’, it’s important to get things right the first time to ensure success and taxpayer satisfaction with the results.

Rory Nisan, Burlington’s deputy mayor for the environment, said, “The City of Burlington has been working with CUTRIC to develop green solutions for our fleet. This funding will help to take that work to the next level so we can look into implementing some zero emission solutions. As part of our Climate Action Plan, the City is committed to transit as an environmentally-friendly way to help residents in our growing city get around.”

Nisan noted that Burlington has recently announced free transit for seniors and children 12 and under. He also noted that youth 13-19 can ride for free evenings and weekends.

Federal funding for the eventual purchase of electric buses should commence in 2026 and feature a gradual roll-out to cover all buses in the Burlington Transit system.

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