Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Montreal's busses will go electric.... in my lifetime


STM bus fleet to be fully electric by 2025

'Fast-charge' buses would have charging stations at ends of each route

BY CATHERINE SOLYOM, THE GAZETTEMAY 22, 2010

montrealbuses.jpg



The STM says its bus fleet will be zero-emission – and zero-noise – by 2025.
Photograph by: John Kenney, Gazette file photo
MONTREAL – Montreal's public transit system will be entirely electric by 2025, says the Société de transport de Montréal, making the city the first in North America to pledge to use only zero-emission - and zero-noise - vehicles.

The STM is currently waiting for a shipment of 380 new diesel buses, with a lifespan of about 15 years, said Carl Desrosiers, chief of operations for the STM. But these will be the last of their kind in Montreal.

In the meantime, the corporation will begin to introduce more efficient, and less polluting buses starting next year.

According to its action plan, released yesterday, in 2011 it will start testing electric, articulated trolley buses, linked to overhead wires, to be used eventually on some of the busiest bus routes, like Pie IX Blvd., Henri Bourassa Blvd., Saint-Michel Blvd. and Notre Dame St.

And by 2012, all new buses purchased will be at least minimally hybrid - many of them articulated.

But the real change will come in the form of fully-electric buses, tested for Montreal winters and eventually replacing most of the STM's 1,300 buses over the next 15 years.

The so-called "fast-charge" bus - rechargeable in 10 to 15 minutes - is extremely promising, Desrosiers said.

"Right now a regular bus does about 500 kilometres before refuelling. Right now, in the cold, no battery can do that. But if you put a power station at both ends of a bus line, when the bus arrives it recharges for 10-15 minutes and it's good for another 20 kilometres. ... That's the future." The fast-charge buses also have the added advantage of running without any overhead wires or trolley tracks on the ground, and hence they are able to bypass any obstacles on the road, like water main breaks or car accidents.

The move toward electricity as the main fuel source, as opposed to diesel, biodiesel or natural gas, is both economical and ecological, Desrosiers said, and the STM hopes it will entice more people to use the public transit system.

"Last year we used 45 million litres of gas," Desrosiers said. "My dream is that in 2025 we will use zero. That's a lot less greenhouse gases emitted. Around the world everyone's heading toward the electric buses. Here electricity is cheap and clean."

csolyom@thegazette.canwest.com

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