In the fall, Quebec Premier François Legault announced an action plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions. One measure included the electrification of 65 per cent of school buses by 2030.
The government announced Friday morning that $250 million will be invested over the next three years to achieve that goal of electrifying the fleet. Quebec’s Transport Minister François Bonnardel says in that time, nearly 2,600 electric school buses will hit the road, phasing out diesel ones.
He said it’s an ambitious goal and an ambitious response, to reduce 800,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions over the next three years.
“It will not only decrease greenhouse gas emissions but it will also reduce air pollution, especially for the kids,” said Daniel Breton, Electric Mobility Canada President and CEO. “Diesel for buses it really has an impact on the kids (health).”
According to QESBA Executive Director Russell Copeman, school bus electrification will also act as a lesson for children.
“Especially schools, where we are trying to teach young people about climate change and the determinants of greenhouse gas emissions … the electrification of a fleet of buses is a very positive thing,” Copeman said.
Assistance from Quebec is intended to finance the purchase of vehicles, which cost approximately $300,000 per unit, and the installation of charging stations.
Quebec electric bus and truck manufacturing company Lion Electric is set to benefit from the announcement. However, Bonnardel said if local companies cannot keep up with the demand, buses could be imported from the United States.
However, the company doesn’t see that as a problem.
“We’re all ready to supply the demand, we’re ready for capacity of productions. We can do 2,500 vehicles per year and then we’ve developed a whole ecosystem around electrification,” said Lion’s vice-president of marketing and communications, Patrick Gervais.
Gervais believes the opportunity could benefit the local economy while putting Quebec on the map as an international leader in electrification.
“We’re really proud to say that 80 per cent of the parts that we have on our vehicles comes from Canada,” Gervais said. “We have 150 vendors here in the province of Quebec.”
Breton says the plan is part of an array of solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but nevertheless one step in the right direction.
“It’s one of the answers, because we have to do more public transit, biking and we have to do more car-sharing and carpooling, so it’s part of the solution, that’s for sure.”
— With files from The Canadian Press