‘Sift through the smog’: Canada and London, Ont. invest $400k toward zero-emission buses

Click to play video: 'London’s controversial ‘low emission zone’ expands to entire city'
London’s controversial ‘low emission zone’ expands to entire city
WATCH: London's "low emission zone," aimed at reducing air pollution, has expanded to include the entire city. Redmond Shannon explains what this means for drivers of high emission vehicles, why the rules are so controversial, the reaction from one Canadian city, and how the move is more focused on health than climate change – Aug 29, 2023

In looking toward strengthening the local green economy, the federal government and the City of London are investing in planning for the transition to zero-emission buses (ZEB).

The joint investment of $400,000 was announced on Tuesday, with the government of Canada contributing $320,000 through the Zero Emission Transit Find and the City of London contributing $80,000.

“This is a critical step in the electrification of our fleet,” said Mayor Josh Morgan. “We have a tremendous opportunity to see a growing green economy by taking part in these climate actions.”

Through this investment, London will complete planning activities, which include feasibility, implementation and market studies, to support future procurement and deployment of ZEBs and related infrastructure, such as charges and civil works, by the London Transit Commission (LTC).

“This is something that’s been we’ve been working out a long time behind the scenes so this is a big first step for us with exciting things on the horizon,” said Kelly Paleczny, general manager of London Transit. “We’re currently working on the actual request for proposal that will go out, hopefully, this fall to be awarded probably early 2024 and then it’ll be moved forward from there.”

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London Transit will also join Burlington Transit as the first participants in a coalition of operators for the Canadian Urban Transit Zero Emission Bus (CUTZEB) program. The initiative provides a “comprehensive and cost-effective process for joint procurements by bringing together small to mid-sized transit agencies across Canada,” according to the federal government.

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“London is proud to be a leader in this innovative procurement process,” Morgan said. “Burlington is our partner in this and when we put out joint RFPs, or we do joint bids together, we’re going to drive efficiencies and savings and consistency across the province.

“We’ll also be one of the first in North America to take that joint municipal approach.”

Canada is also investing $14.9 billion over the next eight years in “reliable, fast, affordable, and clean public transit.” This also includes $3 billion per year in permanent and predictable federal public transit funding, which will be available to support transit solutions beginning in 2026-27.

Lining with Canada’s 2026 target of 5,000 ZEBs, the CUTZEB project was made possible by the Zero Emission Transit Fund, with the Canadian Urban Transit Research and Innovation Consortium (CUTRIC) being the designated national planning service.

Josipa Petrunić, president and CEO of CUTRIC, told Global News that London and Burlington will be the first to take the joint municipal approach toward implementing ZEBs.

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“The ripple effect of forest fires across Canada is profound,” she said. “People, even here locally, are feeling the effects of air pollution and other air quality concerns. But today’s announcement will hopefully help people sift through the smog towards a cleaner future.”

She added that through the project, “we have now action on the front line of getting rid of that pollution so we can start showing ourselves, the younger generation and everyone else affected that there are actually ways to cut pollution and improve your quality of life.”

(Left): Kelly Paleczny, general manager of London Transit, Mayor Josh Morgan, Peter Fragiskatos, MP for London North Centre, Josipa Petrunić, president and CEO of CUTRIC, and Arielle Kayabaga, MP for London West. Amy Simon / Global News

Peter Fragiskatos, MP for London North Centre, highlighted that roughly 20 per cent of Canada’s total greenhouse gas emissions are emitted by vehicles.

“The challenge of our time is climate change…. In the grand scheme of things some might say that this is a very small step, but combined, these things can lead to and are leading to really important outcomes for future,” he said. “I’m confident that this is an important step and important development in the overall transition of our fleet towards electrification.”

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Expressing similar sentiments, Arielle Kayabaga, MP for London West, added that effective public transportation should always be top of mind.

“London is a growing city. We have a lot of students and residents who need not just efficient transportation, but clean transportation that will then ensure a healthy future.”

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