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Electric buses may hit Calgary roads by next year

Calgarians could see electric buses hit the streets as early as 2022, according to a report delivered during the City of Calgary’s Climate Change Symposium.

Reducing carbon emissions has been on the agenda of the City of Calgary for several years. Calgary has been looking into implementing electric buses to help achieve that goal and realize potential operational savings.

Edmonton saw its first electric buses hit the roads last summer. They were the first jurisdiction in North America to introduce overhead, in-depot charging for its units.

Edmonton’s electric buses are expected to be 30 per cent less costly to maintain.

Electric trolleys were once used in Calgary at the beginning of the 1900s. Other than the overhead electric line, these functioned like buses. SCREENSHOT

‘Back to the future’

“We’re going back to the future and we are piloting electric buses in this city starting in 2022,” said Ethan Askey, manager of Sustainability Strategy for Transportation at the City of Calgary.

Askey shared plans during City of Calgary’s Climate Change Symposium on Thursday, March 25.

Askey’s team has been on the search for funding due to electric buses costing considerably more than gas buses.

“For several years now, we’ve been following industry developments and pilot projects and doing our own due diligence and feasibility studies,” said Askey.

A grant to fund the project stopped their search.

The buses will smaller than the ones used in Edmonton, which are 40 foot.

“We’re going with community shuttle buses, these are 30 footers,” said Askey

Askey notes that they’re also looking into buses powered by hydrogen.

“There are some really promising developments in the horizon. We’re in discussion with the City of Edmonton and the province of Alberta on some of those [hydrogen power],” said Askey

“It’s still a little farther out than electric buses which are now commercialized and operational.”

Stephen Tauro with the City of Calgary said the development for an electric bus pilot is underway.

“Once we select the successful proponent and start the project, we will have more information to share,” said Tauro.

“This will likely be this summer.”