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City of Saskatoon unveils $543K electric bus pilot project to save on emissions, costs

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Saskatoon electric bus pilot project
WATCH: The city will pilot the electric bus to see how it fares in Saskatoon’s winter and catch any other hitches – Jul 23, 2020

The City of Saskatoon is one step closer to becoming more eco-friendly by piloting a new electric bus on city streets.

Over the next year, the city will pilot the vehicle to see how it fares in Saskatoon’s winter and catch any other hitches.

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According to the city, at least a quarter of the current buses go down in the winter. Similar buses have been tested in Alberta and other areas with weather like Saskatoon’s.

“When we talk to the people in St. Albert they had zero buses off the road in their electric fleet in the same period of time when we had a 25 per cent reduction,” said Jim McDonald, Saskatoon’s transit director.

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The project costs around $543,600, with $234,300 coming from the federal government’s green municipal fund, which helps bankroll municipalities’ sustainability projects.

The bus is expected to save nearly $30,000 in operating costs a year compared to the current buses, according to McDonald.

“This one bus in a year can save 50 tonnes of CO2 in our community,” added Mayor Charlie Clark.

“This is about saving on our emissions and saving costs.”

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Clark said transit in Canada is moving more toward sustainable options, and Saskatoon is laying the foundation for more work like this in the future.

The buses are meant to hold a charge for an entire day. A charging station is set up at the city’s Civic Operations Centre, and buses will be plugged in the charger overnight. It takes about five hours to reach a full charge.

A protocol is being put in place where buses must return when they drop below 30 per cent charge to ensure they don’t die on the street.

The goal is to have every bus in the city electric by 2030. McDonald admits this is a tough goal but said he is confident it will happen.

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