As TransLink adds more electric buses to its fleet in Metro Vancouver, critics say it’s still not enough

Click to play video: 'Calls for more electric buses in Metro Vancouver' Calls for more electric buses in Metro Vancouver
WATCH: Critics say compared to other major cities around the world, Metro Vancouver is falling behind in using environmentally-friendly electric buses. Nadia Stewart reports – Mar 22, 2019

Is Metro Vancouver’s public transit fleet as green as it could be?

That’s the question being raised by way of an op-ed published on Clean Energy Canada’s website Thursday.

While Canada is leading the way with four major companies building electric buses, the author suggests we’re also falling behind, as very few fleets have done large scale integrations of those buses.

READ MORE: TransLink to test quick-charging electric buses on its route 100 along Marine Drive

“It’s a missed opportunity to both cut carbon pollution and support our growing electric bus companies — like Quebec’s Lion Electric and Vancouver’s GreenPower — by creating a stronger market for them at home,” the article reads.

Vancouver wants to get on board. Soon, passengers who rely on the Route 100 along Marine Drive will be boarding electric buses as part of their daily commute, while TransLink is in the final stages of rolling out a pilot project aimed at testing four renewable energy buses.

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“This is just our ability to start, if you will, kicking the tires,” TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond said. “We’re still understanding how the infrastructure is gonna work. The charging apparatus is new for us, it’s our first foray into the system.”

WATCH: (Aired May 12, 2017) Ted Chernecki reports on TransLink’s first electric buses introduced in 2017

Click to play video: 'TransLink unveils electric buses' TransLink unveils electric buses
TransLink unveils electric buses – May 12, 2017

But it isn’t coming cheap: the new charging stations cost between $1.2 million to $1.5 million, but Desmond said that cost can’t be avoided.

“It’s not simply as easy as buying more electric buses,” he said. “You’ve got to have the charging infrastructure.”

That infrastructure is expanding for cars, but Desmond said it will take longer and cost more to build a network of charging stations for buses.

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READ MORE: Vancouver, Surrey to offer free test rides in driverless shuttles in February

“We need financing to help adapt as quickly as we can and accelerate that adaptation — that’s the key,” he said.

Martin Mullany with Clean Energy BC said the prevalence of electric buses in other cities is making it increasingly difficult for Canadian companies to justify pilot projects, but added TransLink is headed in the right direction.

However, there’s another fleet of vehicles he believes desperately needs to go green.

WATCH: Coverage of other electric bus rollouts across Canada on

“The real impact comes from moving delivery trucks,” Mullany said “Everyone now is getting addicted to their free Amazon delivery, which means more and more trucks on the road.

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“Every small business has a truck, they’re all operating six, eight, 10, 12 hours a day and putting out diesel, whereas the car you have in your driveway operates for about 20 minutes a day.”

Nearly 50 per cent of TransLink’s fleet is already green, including 262 electric trolleys, 145 compressed natural gas buses and 255 hybrid diesel buses.

READ MORE: London could become the first city in the world to have an electric BRT system

Their goal is to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by the year 2050.

The author of the Clean Energy Canada op-ed is also hopeful the $2.2 billion earmarked for infrastructure funding in Tuesday’s federal budget could be used to move more fleets towards electric buses.

“More policies to encourage electric buses in Canada would not only help us fight climate change but also create opportunities to save money in the long run,” the article reads.

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