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Up to 40 electric transit buses coming to an Edmonton street near you

Up to 40 electric transit buses coming to an Edmonton street near you
WATCH ABOVE: New electric buses could soon be buzzing along Edmonton streets. The city says they'll start arriving next year. As Albert Delitala explains, the benefits are supposed to go beyond just saving fuel.

After Edmonton transit was given the go-ahead to purchase a fleet of electric buses last fall, on Friday the city announced it will buy up to 40 of them.

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson was joined by federal Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi and provincial Transportation Minister Brian Mason — both of whom were bus drivers with the city of Edmonton before entering politics.

From left to right: Edmonton mayor Don Iveson, Alberta Transportation Minister Brian Mason, Edmonton-South West MLA Thomas Dang, and Federal Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi at the Edmonton Transit System Centennial garage. April 13, 2018.
From left to right: Edmonton mayor Don Iveson, Alberta Transportation Minister Brian Mason, Edmonton-South West MLA Thomas Dang, and Federal Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi at the Edmonton Transit System Centennial garage. April 13, 2018. Albert Delitala, Global News

The federal government has committed more than $21.5 million to the project through the public transit infrastructure fund. The provincial and municipal governments are also contributing $10.8 million each, with the province’s amount coming from the GreenTRIP program.

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READ MORE: Stakeholders want Edmonton to move quicker with new bus network design

“Public transit infrastructure funding allows communities to build the new urban transit networks and service extensions they need to keep pace with the way Canadians live, move and work now and into the future,” Sohi said, in a statement.

The buses cost about twice that of the diesel models currently in use, but the city said they are much cheaper to run and are expected to require less maintenance.

“The electrification of our bus fleet will allow us to accelerate our leadership on energy transition and reduce Edmonton’s overall carbon footprint,” Iveson said.

After 2020, the city likely will be past the point of ever buying diesel buses again. Last year ETS general manager Eddie Robar said the city could make the switch after the southeast Edmonton Ferrier bus garage is converted to handle the buses.

“That will give us a capability, capacity of 120 vehicles. So that gives us two years of purchases where we can switch from diesel to electrics. But we have to have that facility complete before we can do that,” Robar said back in September, adding with 900 buses in Edmonton’s fleet, handling the conversion over the coming years will be an enormous task.

READ MORE: Edmonton could begin getting out of the diesel bus system in 2020

The city expects to receive five buses next year, with the remaining buses coming in through 2020.

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With files from Karen Bartko, Global News, and Scott Johnson, 630 CHED