Some local students will be taking electric buses to school next fall.
Local school bus provider HammondBus is buying 10 electric school buses from Quebec-based Lion Electric.
Kent Hammond with the company says five of the buses should be arriving next summer to start their routes in fall of 2023, with the rest arriving by 2024.
While the buses still use diesel for heating, the motor operations are fully-electric. Hammond adds that because range is limited, they’ll likely start on more urban routes.
“Our Muskoka operations will use them first, and then depending on how things grow and evolve, maybe Parry Sound, and maybe some of our other companies in Haliburton and Lindsay as well,” says Hammond.
According to Hammond, about 50 per cent of the buses and infrastructure costs are funded by Infrastructure Canada’s Zero-Emission Transit Fund, which supports public transit and school bus operators transitioning to electric vehicles.
“Even with the funding program, the electric school buses are going to be more expensive than a regular school bus,” says Hammond. “But for us this is an investment in technology, an investment in our future and community, so we decided that with this program, now is the time.”
Hammond says almost all of their bus routes in Parry Sound, and about half in Muskoka, are already serviced by propane buses, a relatively clean-burning fuel. He says the company is always looking for cleaner options, but they have to be economically-viable.
“I think the future really depends on the technology,” says Hammond. “As electric technology grows, hopefully the [fleet] would become all-electric, but we’re really at the mercy of the technology, whether that’s electric, or hydrogen, or fossil fuel.”
HammondBus operates 60 school bus routes in the area for Trillium Lakelands District School Board, some of which are shared with the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board, and a further 40 routes in Parry Sound for Nipissing Parry Sound Student Transportation Services.