Belleville Transit tries 6-week electric bus trial

The city of Belleville may be one step closer to a much greener future with less fumes.

For the next six weeks, the city will be testing out a fully electric transit bus.

Belleville transit driver Gilles Dupuis took the electric bus out on its inaugural run.

He likes the way the bus handles and thinks passenger will enjoy the e-bus as well.

“Passengers will feel a better sense of smoothness as they’re driving as opposed to a bus that changes gears in the transmission.”

The electric buses are more expensive than their diesel counterparts but transit manager Paul Buck says the bus should provide savings elsewhere.

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“It takes approximately two hours to fully charge the electric bus to give us 300 km of service,” Buck said. “For the diesel bus, on average, it would be about a 100 litres at roughly a dollar a litre.”

There’s no engine to service either.

Belleville has 16 buses, converting to electric would eliminate 160 tonnes of greenhouse gases per bus per year.

The Mississauga Bus Group of Companies has the service contract for the buses in Canada.

Sales Manager Peter Burden says the buses have also stood the test of a Canadian winter in Edmonton.

“They’ve run it in some of the coldest [areas] we see in our country and the results were very favourable compared to a conventional.”

After the six-week trial run, city staff will evaluate feedback from passengers.

Buck says if they move forward with the electric buses with city council’s approval, electric buses could become part of the fleet in as little as two years.

“It would probably be in our 2018 budget request for new vehicles which would push the purchase probably to 2019 by the time it was tendered, built and ready for delivery.”

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Then it would be a process of several years replacing the entire fleet.

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