More than 500 million people “ride the rocket” every year — so many that the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) boasts the third-largest ridership in North America. Using public transit is an environmentally-conscious choice — every bus takes the equivalent of 45 cars off the road — and thanks to a new Green Bus Procurement Plan, the TTC is set to take its role in environmental sustainability to the next level. 

“We’re facing some big shifts that continue to shape our city and our world, and we’re working diligently to meet our target of a zero-emissions fleet by 2040,” says Rick Leary, CEO of the TTC.

“This milestone is in line with our Corporate Plan. We’re modernizing our network and innovating for the long-term while continuing to deliver the reliable and high-quality service that our customers deserve.

The TTC has procured 60 long-range battery electric buses as part of its goals. The fleet of eBuses, which run on clean energy and are completely free of GHG emissions, will roll out between now and the beginning of 2020. 

“We’re really pleased to be taking a giant step into the future with our first-ever zero-emissions battery-electric vehicle, solidifying our plans for long-term sustainability amidst climate change.”

The TTC has taken a strategic approach to acquire its new e-fleet, having procured 25 buses each from two manufacturers New Flyer and Proterra, and 10 from BYD. A head-to-head comparison of each model’s performance, from their resistance to harsh weather to their interior layout, will allow TTC officials to lay out a concrete list of requirements to inform future procurements. The transit agency aims to acquire more eBuses in 2021. 

The TTC received the first of its 60 eBuses in April and now has 7 of an expected 25 eBuses from New Flyer Industries. The inaugural ride was on June 3rd and the rest of the fleet should hit the road by the first quarter of 2020.

eBuses will increase efficiency and reliability

eBuses aren’t just better for the environment — they’re more reliable and less costly to maintain. The TTC expects to save between $60 and $80 million per year in net fuel costs, and because the buses have 30% fewer moving parts than traditional buses, they‘ll also be easier to service. This means less money spent on repairs, fewer breakdowns, and in turn, fewer delays for riders. Based on estimates from peer agencies, the shift to eBus technology should translate to a 25% increase in reliability.

The eBuses will also reduce noise pollution in the city, as they’re significantly quieter than their traditional counterparts. 

While the project requires an up-front investment, with $140 million spent on the buses, chargers and infrastructure so far, its positive impact on efficiency and reliability should translate to significant long-term savings and a better overall experience for customers.

Sustainable infrastructure is the key to the city’s economic well-being 

The TTC’s goal to be emissions-free by 2040 is part of a wider effort by the City of Toronto to curb its reliance on fossil fuels. In 2017, the city committed to an 80% reduction in its GHG emissions by 2050. The Green Bus Procurement Plan will reduce C02 emissions by 100 to 150 tonnes per bus, per year — a major step towards achieving the city’s overall sustainability goals. 

Using electric vehicles in public transportation is a significant milestone in Toronto’s commitment to protect the environment and the health of its citizens. Since transport vehicles account for a significant percentage of particulate matter in the air, emissions-free TTC vehicles will improve local air quality, making Toronto healthier for everyone — especially children, the elderly, and those with respiratory illnesses like asthma. 

Investing in leading-edge sustainability technology is crucial for the long-term stability of Toronto’s infrastructure, and, in turn, its economic competitiveness and the well-being of its residents. The TTC’s new eBus fleet will not only improve customer experience in the short-term, it will lay a sustainable foundation for Toronto’s transit system in the years to come.