Langley’s mayors are happy that the TransLink Mayors’ Council decided to put the pedal to the metal when it comes to switching to an electric bus fleet in Metro Vancouver.
On Thursday, the mayors voted to approve an aggressive roll-out of the Low Carbon Fleet Strategy, with the aim of converting half of the entire TransLink diesel bus fleet to battery electric buses in 10 years, by 2030.
The remainder are to be converted before 2050.
“We had three options,” said Township Mayor Jack Froese. The mayors could have opted for slow, medium, or aggressive, he said.
“We’ve decided to go for the accelerated plan.”
City Mayor Val van den Broek noted that without these investments in electric buses, Metro Vancouver won’t meet its climate targets.
Right now there are just four electric buses in TransLink’s fleet, part of a pilot program to test out the buses and their charging infrastructure.
The change would expand that to 635 electric buses, along with multiple chargers across Metro Vancouver. Including the trolley buses that operate in Vancouver, that would mean 64 per cent of the total transit bus fleet would be electric by 2030. Every diesel bus phased out would be replaced by an electric one.
Expanding the electric portion of the fleet that rapidly will require capital investment of $447 million more than that already secured and approved for conventional buses.
Electric buses are more expensive to buy, but the real cost is the electric infrastructure to charge them, Froese noted.
Part of the plan is to open the new Marpole Transit Centre as a 100 per cent electric bus depot with 280 charges.
The fleet would create 44 per cent less greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 under the plan.
Despite the upfront costs, it would also be cheaper in the long run.
“They’re less costly to operate,” said Froese, citing fuel and simpler maintenance with electric buses. “We expect some savings.”
It’s unlikely the change will result in any new bus barns or maintenance yards in Langley.
“We’re the end of the line,” for TransLink, Froese noted.
However, he said there has been some talk of a maintenance yard for SkyTrain here, when the proposed SkyTrain line arrives in the City’s downtown.
The TransLink Mayors’ Council will be going to the federal and provincial governments seeking funding for the changeover.