Fully electric buses too pricey for TransLink
A TransLink, compressed natural gas (CNG) bus in front of science world. (IMW INDUSTRIES)
Amid debate over the advantages of compressed natural gas to fuel Metro Vancouver buses, TransLink says it’s already looked at the more environmentally friendly option of battery-powered electric buses — and found them far too expensive.
The majority of the transit provider’s fleet is currently diesel powered, with a smaller component of electric trolley buses. It also has about the same number of hybrid-diesel-electric vehicles as trolleys and a much smaller number of natural gas buses, according to Coast Mountain Bus Company fleet manager Dave Leicester.
“We have certainly done some testing of pure battery buses (without trolley wires),” he said. “We think they’re promising, but they’re very expensive. It’s going to cost, probably, at least $1 million per bus.”
Leicester said prices for diesel and natural gas buses were approximately half that.
“Then there’s the infrastructure to charge it. It’s going to cost at least $1.5 million a kilometer,” he said. “We have to build a rectifier station … and it has to basically be a mechanism where they plug it in and fast charge.”
TransLink’s current plan is to move towards more natural gas powered vehicles with plans to install support infrastructure for that type of bus in both Richmond and Surrey.
To that end, the authority’s already pegged the cost of a fuelling station at Surrey Transit Centre — capable of servicing 100 or more CNG buses — at $5 million.
The CNG plan has drawn criticism from Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan, who questioned whether the transit authority is being pressured politically, given the B.C. government’s interest in the resource, to make the switch.
Leicester said political pressure on natural gas was the case in the 90s, but these days he “rarely get calls” due to existing demand for the fuel.
By the numbers
Per unit bus costs:
- Diesel — $410,000
- Compressed natural gas — $485,000
- Electric — $1 million
- Source: Coast Mountain Bus Company