To make transit more accessible for Grande Prairie residents, around $6 million in government funds has been approved for the bus system in the city. The provincial and federal government are providing around $2.5 million in joint funding for things like battery storage for solar energy, automated passenger counters, and electronic fare systems.
The new proposed electric bus fleet was also partially funded by GreenTRIP grant money with around $3.5 million coming in from the province. Up to two thirds was covered under the grant but there will be around $1.8 million that city is responsible for covering.
City Transit Manager Jason Henry says people could start to see the new fleet on the roads by the fall of 2017.
“We have done a return of investment analysis. The amount of maintenance that you save from the buses not having an engine or transmission and the diesel fuel you save along with the larger upfront cost for the electric buses is more than made up over it’s lifetime.”
The money will also help the city be a little more green.
“When you are powering your buses directly from the energy from sun, that is about as green as you can get. That is one of our goals is to be even more green than just electricity.”
He says it would cost the city around $40,000 a year for diesel fuel and around $6,000 a year to plug into the grid.
Henry says once they purchase a bus, it takes around 9 months to prepare them to hit the road. There is plans for 6 bus purchases between 2016 and 2018. The first will be a replacement bus.