The Toronto Transit Commission this week became the operator of the largest public battery electric bus fleet in North America, as the introduction of a third e-bus model to Toronto streets brings its total fleet size to 60.
The first of the newly arrived buses, which come from BYD Canada Co. Ltd., went into service on Sept. 8. They join previously commissioned e-buses manufactured by Proterra Inc and Winnipeg-based New Flyer Industries Inc..
“Electrification is the future of public transit”
Jaye Robinson, Chair, Toronto Transit Commission
The TTC originally approved the purchase of 30 fully electric buses in November of 2017, and approved a further 30 purchases in 2018. The complete electrification of TTC buses, which is slated to occur by 2040, is a component of Toronto’s TransformTO climate action strategy to achieve 80 per cent reduction in local greenhouse gases by 2050.
An industry leader
“Electrification is the future of public transit and I’m proud that the TTC has been established as an industry leader in this regard, as the owner of North America’s largest fleet of e-buses,” said TTC chair Jaye Robinson, at a ceremony marking the announcement.
“The TTC board wholeheartedly supports the TTC’s forward-thinking plan to achieve a zero-emissions fleet by 2040.”
According to the TTC, the decision to purchase three separate bus models was made in order to allow for head-to-head performance comparison which will inform future bus purchases. The BYD buses use alternating current (AC) electricity, and therefore require a different type of charging infrastructure than the others, which use direct current (DC). Each fleet is being housed at a different service garage.
Thirty-five of the city’s 60 e-buses are in service as of now; the remaining 25 are undergoing final testing and are expected to be on Toronto streets by the end of September.
Transit infrastructure fund
The e-bus purchases were financed with a $140-million investment by the federal government and the City of Toronto through the federal Public Transit Infrastructure Fund. That sum will also contribute to the cost of infrastructure to further expand the city’s zero-emission fleet.
“I’m proud to help launch these new electric buses and to celebrate the fact that Toronto is now officially operating the largest fleet of electric buses in North America,” said Toronto mayor John Tory.
“Our e-bus fleet is one of the many projects that our city government has jointly funded with the federal government through the federal Public Transit Infrastructure Fund,” he added. “This is the right and responsible thing to do for our transit system, our city, and our environment.”
A growing number of Canadian municipalities are making similar investments in zero-emission public transit. Cities such as Oakville, Halifax, Edmonton and Vancouver have deployed, or plan to deploy, fully electric buses in efforts to decarbonize their transit fleets.
Editor’s note: This story was updated on September 10, 2020 to clarify the status of deployment in Canadian cities