Ottawa Transit Commission approves zero-emission fleet plan for OC Transpo

June 18, 2021
The plan requires approval from the Ottawa City Council before an agreement with the Canada Infrastructure Bank can be negotiated.

The Transit Commission of the city of Ottawa, Ontario, has given its seal of approval to a report that lays the framework for OC Transpo to fully transition to a fully electric bus fleet by 2036.

The framework estimates costs of around C$1 billion (US$810 million) over the next five years to procure up to 450 zero-emission buses that would be phased into OC Transpo’s fleet by 2027.

The report, Zero-Emission Buses for OC Transpo, requires approval from Ottawa City Council, which will consider it on June 23. Should approval be granted, OC Transpo would begin to negotiate an agreement with the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) and seek funding from Infrastructure Canada. An agreement with Hydro Ottawa would be pursued for the energy supply and charging infrastructure.

The Transit Commission notes the agreement with the CIB and potential Infrastructure Canada funding would offset any added capital costs for OC Transpo’s transition to battery-electric buses and ensure the conversion is affordable under the city’s Long-Range Financial Plan for transit.

Earlier this month, CIB and the city reached an agreement in principle that would see CIB commit C$400 million (US$324 million) to support OC Transpo’s adoption of 450 zero-emission buses. CIB has committed to investing C$1.5 billion toward zero-emission buses, which will be in addition to the C$2.75 billion (US$2.23 billion) the federal government of Canada will invest over the next five years to deliver 5,000 zero-emission buses.

The report says once it has been adopted, staff will begin the procurement process for the 450 battery-electric buses with annual orders being subject to approval by the Transit Commission and City Council as part of the annual capital budget. The first order of 74 40-foot buses would be delivered in 2023. This is the same year OC Transpo’s four 40-foot battery-electric buses ordered from New Flyer are expected to enter service.

The report also recommends future bus purchases should be zero-emission “as long as they meet operational requirements and can be purchased in a way that is consistent with the city’s Long-Range Financial Plan for transit.”

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.