Canadian Manufacturing

New Flyer launches battery-electric bus pilot project in Man.

Four battery-electric buses will be in daily operation on 40-kilometre, two-hour route in Winnipeg as part of pilot project

WINNIPEG—Natural Resources Canada is celebrating what it called a “clean technology milestone”—the launch of four battery-electric buses in Manitoba’s capital.

The fleet of battery-electric buses and the accompanying high-capacity charging station were built as part of a New Flyer Industries Inc.pilot project that will be integrated into the Winnipeg transit system.

Announced in 2012, the project received $3.4 million in funding from Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), a not-for-profit funded by the federal government.

“Technologies like New Flyer’s highly efficient and very clean Xcelsior battery-electric transit bus will be an important part of Canada’s clean and sustainable energy future,” SDTC interim president Jane Pagel said in a statement released by Natural Resources Canada.

“SDTC is proud to launch innovations like this on the world stage, bolstering Canada’s reputation and leadership growth in the area of clean technology.”

According to New Flyer, the buses will be in daily operation on a 40-kilometre, two-hour route starting at Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport, making its way through the city centre, before returning to the airport.

The route was chosen for its length, speeds and loads, which the Winnipeg-based bus maker said are typical of “many central business district routes” in North America.

“We didn’t want an easy route,” said Paul Soubry, president and chief executive of New Flyer. “We encouraged Winnipeg Transit to select a route that would showcase the technological capability of our Xcelsior battery-electric bus in a real life in-service situation that will experience a wide range of weather and traffic conditions.”

Winnipeg Airports Authority Inc. (WAA), which owns and operates Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport, allowed New Flyer to install a high-power charging station at the airport.

“Once at the airport the bus drives up to the charging station and, while passengers are loading or disembarking, a roof mounted pantograph connects seamlessly with the overhead charger interface,” Soubry said. “After approximately a 10-minute charge, the bus has fully replenished the energy consumed in the previous two-hour route.

The batteries’ capacity allows the bus to operate for as long as five hours without a recharge, according to Soubry, and can maintain service for more than 20 hours a day by charging on route.

“Winnipeg Transit is excited to be part of the testing and development team for this innovative project,” said Dave Wardrop, director of Winnipeg Transit. “We believe that the Xcelsior electric buses hold tremendous promise for transit’s future with the potential for lower operating costs and reduced emissions.

“We are extremely pleased that our long standing partnerships, and new relationships, continue to yield dividends for our customers and for our community.”

The use of electric buses is expected to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 160 tonnes per bus annually, according to New Flyer.

In addition to Winnipeg Transit and the WAA, New Flyer has worked with the province, Manitoba Hydro, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. and Red River College on the project.

The provincially-run Manitoba Vehicle Technology Centre provided an additional $94,000 in financing for the development of charging station technology.

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