Extra $10 million needed to charge and park Edmonton’s new electric buses

The City of Edmonton is looking to bring back the electric bus to city streets, without the need for overhead wires. COURTESY: City of Edmonton

Not everything with Edmonton’s purchase of 40 new, electrically run buses is going smoothly.

The buses are fine, but where they’re being kept is costing the city an extra $10.3 million.

In 2016, city council approved ordering 40 electric buses. It was then decided they were going to keep them at the Kathleen Andrews Transit Garage at Fort Road and Yellowhead Trail.

City council’s executive committee was told Wednesday that alterations were needed to the design of the renovated garage, because electric buses weigh about 3,000 pounds more than diesel.

Adam Laughlin, the deputy city manager for infrastructure, told councillors the work started before all the facts were in.

“Based on schedule requirements, this may sound bad, but we’ve actually actioned some of these items already, because if we didn’t we wouldn’t be able to advance the garage structure.”

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

The garage has a completion date of March 2019.

“The design was already been out to tender, being built without electrical buses, as being part of the original project scope,” Jesse Banford, the director for facility infrastructure and delivery with the City of Edmonton, told reporters. “So now we’re including that scope of work. So the $10 million is to add this into this part of the scope of work.”

Eddie Robar, the branch manager for Edmonton Transit, said the floor had to be reinforced because of what’s below.

“In this specific garage, there’s a parking garage underneath the floor where the buses are. So if you can imagine, upgrading the infrastructure just to support the floor with [a] garage underneath, it’s not like having it on a pure slab.”

Watch below: In April 2018, Albert Delitala filed this report about how new electric buses could soon be buzzing along Edmonton streets.

Click to play video: '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

The roadway immediately outside needs reinforcement as well, Banford explained.

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“When we talked about pavement design, the constant turning in that area, you have to ensure the pavement design is able to accommodate the weight of these buses.”

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

Out on Edmonton’s main streets, the design of the road base is sufficiently capable of handling the heavier buses.

Executive committee was told that future transit upgrades for when more buses are ordered won’t come with the $10-million surprise.

“[We’re] learning from this,” Laughlin said. “It’s not just a plug, it’s the weight of the bus in comparison to a diesel bus. [It’s] the structural requirements, the electrical requirements — those sorts of things — that cause the ancilliary infrastructure improvements to happen.”

Extra electrical work, including a second generator, information technology systems and other upgrades, are also part of the $10-million cost.

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