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New Saint John electric bus the first of its kind in North America

Click to play video: 'Saint John unveils new electric bus'
Saint John unveils new electric bus
WATCH ABOVE: The City of Saint John is taking its foot off the gas for a chance to take aim at climate change. Officials unveiled a new electric bus, never before seen on North American soil. Robert Lothian reports – Jun 20, 2022

Another historic first has taken place in the City of Saint John.

Government officials crammed under a tent to avoid the rain and welcome the Karsan e-JEST ­— the first electric, low entrance, 20-foot transit bus in North America.

“We are a city of firsts. We’re pleased to have this here, it’s very exciting for us,” exclaimed Donna Reardon, the Mayor of Saint John.

Produced in Turkey, the e-JEST is a European-style mini bus intended for on-demand and low-volume routes. It’s equipped with a BMW power train providing an emission-free range of 210 km and can transport up to 22 passengers at a time.

Saint John Transit riders will have a chance to hop on the new electric bus during a trial-on-demand program set to begin in September.

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The city plans to lease six electric buses from supplier Damera Bus Corp., each at a cost of $4,566 per month on a 12-to-18-month lease, with an option to purchase at the end of the term.

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For the time being, the bus unveiled Monday will be used for public demonstrations.

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Traffic Tips: electric car charging

According to Ian Fogan, director of Transit and Fleet at the City of Saint John, efforts were made to purchase electric buses produced in North America, but supply is in high demand.

“This bus plays perfectly to some of our urban small street small ridership areas, but it also plays well to some of our suburban neighbourhoods where there may not be a lot of ridership, and it could be a quiet operation, and it’s hard to get a 40-foot bus down a suburban street,” Fogan said.

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Transitioning to an on-demand system will save about 20 per cent on fuel, said Fogan, who added electric buses are also expected to cut about 20 per cent off of operating costs.

Over the coming years, Fogan expects 20-, 30- and 40-foot electric buses to be incorporated into the city’s fleet.

By 2040, Saint John aims to run all transit buses solely on electricity.

Its newest member of the fleet has already been rolled out in Europe, according to Roger D’Hollander, chief operating officer for Damera.

D’Hollander said there are already 500 E-Jest buses on the streets in countries such as France, Germany and Italy. There has also been interest from other communities in Canada and the U.S.

“We are anticipating having a bus like this in the majority of transit agencies frankly across North America. It’s not just a Canadian thing, it’s an American thing as well,” he remarked.

According to D’Hollander, transit authorities can buy three e-JEST buses for the same price as a 40-foot transit bus.

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“If they were to replace one of those 40-foot buses its savings about 80-thousand kilograms of CO2 per year by changing a city bus into this type of an electric bus.”

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