TORONTO — Ontario is investing $8 million this year in an electric school bus pilot program as part of the province’s efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change.
As part of Ontario's five-year Climate Change Action Plan, the pilot is designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 15% below 1990 levels by 2020, 37% by 2030, and 80% by 2050, according to a news release from the Ontario Ministry of Transportation’s office.
Eligible school bus operators in Ontario who apply to participate in the program and are accepted can receive up to $400,000 for one new electric school bus and the related charging infrastructure to support it, said Bob Nichols, senior media liaison officer at the Ontario Ministry of Transportation.
Applicants will be chosen based on their experience in student transportation, ability to successfully deliver a pilot project, location in Ontario, type of route serviced, and the size of their school bus fleet.
Data collected on the performance of the electric school buses will be used to develop a business case for their adoption by school bus operators, and will also be used to examine their potential within student transportation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality.
“For many students in Ontario, the school day begins when they step on the bus in the morning and ends when it returns them home safely,” said Mitzie Hunter, Ontario's minister of education. “By adding electric school buses to our student transportation system, we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and give our students a healthier school experience from pickup to drop-off.”
The initiative is funded by proceeds from Ontario's carbon market, which are invested into programs that help households and businesses reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save money on energy costs, including home energy retrofits, public transit, social housing retrofits, and electric vehicle incentives and infrastructure.
The pilot will run from Dec. 1, 2017, to June 30, 2019. Applications must be submitted by Oct. 13. For more information on the pilot program, go here.
The use of electric school buses is growing in areas such as California and Quebec. Approximately 100 electric school buses are currently in operation in North America, according to the Ontario Ministry of Transportation.
Meanwhile, GreenPower Motor Co. has planned the first Canadian demonstration tour of its Synapse 72 electric school bus in the greater Toronto area from Sept. 26 to 29 as part of the electric school bus pilot program.
The Toronto tour follows the company’s demonstration tour in California, where GreenPower secured 11 commitments for its Synapse 72 from six school districts in the state, according to the company.
GreenPower will meet with investment community members in downtown Toronto, where the Synapse 72 will be on display, on Tuesday. On Wednesday and Thursday, the company will conduct demonstrations with its regional factory representative, City View Bus Sales & Services Ltd., for selected applicants of the pilot.
The Synapse 72 will also be on display and available for demonstration rides at the electric school bus equipment showcase, in North York on Friday. The showcase will offer manufacturers of electric school buses and technology providers an opportunity to display their products to interested parties of the pilot program.
“The electric school bus pilot program provides a great incentive for school bus operators within Ontario to convert their fleets to a proven electric alternative,” said Fraser Atkinson, chairman of GreenPower. “Our intent with this first tour in Toronto is to capitalize on the opportunity the program is providing and to introduce the GreenPower solution to a new market. We believe the Toronto school bus operators will find our bus compelling from a financial as well as environmental perspective, and we look forward to productive meetings with potential customers.”