Edmonton & Strathcona County Lead the Way with Hydrogen Bus Trials

Thunder Bay Transit - Memorial 3M Bus on Brodie Street
Thunder Bay Transit buses are outfitted with bike racks.

Thunder Bay – NEWS – As the City of Thunder Bay looks to upgrade transit service with electric buses, City Administration and Transit Managers could likely benefit from a trip to Edmonton Alberta to learn what to do, and what not to do.

Edmonton back in 2020 purchased EV Transit buses from an American company. The company is now in Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings and at last report the purchase of those buses has been nothing more than a headache for Edmonton Transit.

So what is Thunder Bay Planning?

Thunder Bay is charging ahead with a comprehensive plan to electrify its transit system and municipal fleet, aiming to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and embrace a more sustainable future.

The ambitious “Transit Zero Emissions Transition Plan” and “Municipal Fleet Zero Emissions Transition Plan” will be presented to City Council on Monday, May 13th. These plans, informed by extensive research and modeling, outline a phased approach to electrify the city’s vehicles, allowing for ongoing evaluation and adaptation as technology evolves.

What This Means for Thunder Bay

  • Cleaner Air: The transition to electric vehicles will significantly improve air quality and reduce the city’s carbon footprint. By 2044, greenhouse gas emissions from transit operations could be slashed by over 90% – the equivalent of removing 13,000 gas-powered cars from the roads each year.
  • Greener Future: Electrifying the city’s fleet is a crucial step in addressing the climate emergency and achieving the goals set out in Thunder Bay’s Net-Zero Strategy.
  • Funding Opportunities: Having comprehensive plans in place opens doors to access future funding for electric vehicles and charging infrastructure, building on millions of dollars already secured.

Phased Approach for Success

The City is adopting a phased approach to electrification, carefully evaluating the performance of initial electric vehicle purchases and incorporating lessons learned before scaling up. This strategy ensures the city benefits from the latest technological advancements and best practices in the rapidly evolving electric vehicle landscape.

Collaboration for a Sustainable Future

The plans were developed in close collaboration with Synergy North, taking into account unique local factors like Thunder Bay’s topography, temperature fluctuations, and heating/cooling needs.

Next Steps

Following the initial report on Monday, the plans will be further discussed and voted on by City Council on July 15th.

Reaction from Transit Riders

Social Media reaction the this announcement was likely not what Thunder Bay Transit expected. Most of the responses were that rather than replace the fleet, running a reliable transit service without all of the last moment Nextlift.ca cancellations would be appreciated far more.

Over recent months, Thunder Bay Transit has cancelled buses without a lot of notice.

On Friday at Intercity Mall, awaiting the #3 Memorial to Water Street bus for example around 4:00 pm a large number of transit riders stood in the cool damp rain awaiting that bus. It never came. It showed it initially on Nextbus as five minutes out, and stayed there for eight minutes before going to cancelled.

Service matters on transit.

Edmonton Transit Moves into H2 Future

Edmonton and Strathcona County are making waves in the sustainable transportation sector by becoming the first Canadian cities to pilot hydrogen-powered buses. This innovative move, part of the Alberta Zero Emission Hydrogen Transit (AZEHT) initiative, aims to test two hydrogen buses under real-world conditions in Alberta, starting October 25, 2023.

Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology: A Cleaner Ride

Hydrogen fuel cell buses offer a promising solution for eco-conscious transit. They produce zero tailpipe emissions, emitting only water vapor and heat. The electricity powering the bus is generated through a chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen within the fuel cell. Not only are they environmentally friendly, but they’re also quieter and more efficient, with a travel range of up to 480 kilometers.

A Canadian First: Edmonton’s Dual Electric Bus Fleet

Edmonton is setting a national precedent by operating both hydrogen fuel cell and battery electric buses. This demonstrates the city’s commitment to exploring diverse sustainable technologies to achieve its ambitious goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040.

Collaboration for a Greener Future

This pioneering initiative is made possible through a partnership between the City of Edmonton, Strathcona County, Emissions Reduction Alberta, Suncor, and the Alberta Motor Transport Association. Together, they have established Alberta’s first hydrogen maintenance facility and fueling station.

Key Facts:

  • Zero emissions: Hydrogen fuel cell buses produce no tailpipe emissions, only water vapor and heat.
  • Quiet and efficient: Hydrogen buses offer a quieter and smoother ride than traditional diesel buses.
  • Locally sourced fuel: The buses will rely on hydrogen produced in Alberta’s Industrial Heartland.
  • Extensive range: The buses can travel up to 480 kilometers on a single hydrogen refueling.
  • Leading the way: Edmonton is the first Canadian city to operate both hydrogen fuel cell and battery electric buses.

Building a Sustainable Transportation Network

This pilot project represents a significant step forward in the adoption of clean energy solutions for public transportation. By embracing hydrogen fuel cell technology, Edmonton and Strathcona County are paving the way for a more sustainable and environmentally friendly transit future.

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