Edmonton Transit Service unveils electric buses and new garages

July 24, 2020
The buses, which were manufactured by Proterra, each contain 660 kWh of onboard energy - the most energy storage on any 40-foot electric bus.

The Edmonton Transit Service (ETS) in Alberta, Canada, and Proterra, unveiled the transit service's first 21 electric buses and new, purpose-built electric bus garages.

ETS has 19 additional Proterra buses on the way this year to make up a 40-bus fleet, one of the largest purchases of electric buses in Canadian history. With this deployment, ETS also becomes the first to implement in-depot overhead charging on the continent. ETS will begin putting the electric buses into service in early August.

“For many years I’ve advocated for the adoption of electric buses in our city, and I’m happy to see that Edmonton is leading the way. Our purchase is historic in that it represents the largest purchase of electric buses in Canadian history,” said Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson. “Electric buses are a major component of the future of public transit in our city and across Canada, because they save the city money and benefit not only transit users who will get to experience the perks of a quieter commute with decreased emissions, but also Edmontonians who aren’t regular commuters on our transit system, as they’ll also benefit from the city meeting its energy and climate goals.”

“From the start, we’ve been very intentional about how we’ve designed our electric bus program,” said Ryan Birch, director of Transit Operations, ETS. “We’ve taken a unique approach to charging our buses inside transit facilities. This provides important redundancy that makes our electric bus fleet more reliable for transit customers, and will help us continue to modernize our transit system.”

Edmonton selected the 40-foot Proterra Catalyst E2 max vehicle with 660 kWh of onboard energy and the DuoPower™ drivetrain. The E2 max bus has six Proterra battery packs on board – the most energy storage on any 40-foot electric bus – enabling these vehicles to get approximately 350 km of range on ETS routes. This vehicle model famously broke the world record for the longest distance traveled by any electric vehicle on a single charge, and ETS is the first customer in North America to put it into service.

The DuoPower drivetrain delivers nearly twice the horsepower and five times better fuel efficiency than a standard diesel engine. Featuring two electric motors, the DuoPower drivetrain delivers an impressive 510 horsepower, accelerating a Catalyst bus from 0-20 mph in under six seconds. In addition, the DuoPower drivetrain can propel a bus up a 25 percent grade, making it an ideal option for routes with steep hills. By combining the DuoPower drivetrain with Proterra’s industry-leading battery technology and lightweight composite bus body, the Catalyst vehicle provides superior performance and is designed to tackle Edmonton’s routes and winter climate.

“This is one of the most impressive end-to-end deployments of battery-electric transit buses we’ve seen in North America,” said Jack Allen, CEO of Proterra. “The ETS deployment showcases how to successfully implement an electric bus fleet and charging infrastructure for current fleet needs, as well as plan for expansion in the near future. We are proud to partner with ETS to deliver clean, quiet transportation to Edmonton.”

To charge its new buses, Edmonton also unveiled the new Kathleen Andrews Garage, named after Edmonton’s first woman transit operator, who worked for the city for 23 years.

ETS collaborated with the Proterra Energy™ team to install 26 ABB 150 kW depot chargers connected to inverted pantographs and seven 60 kW Proterra plug-in chargers in the maintenance area, all of which are interoperable and standardized. ETS bus operators are able to drive the buses into assigned parking spots and connect to the respective overhead chargers with the flip of a switch, and begin charging immediately or wait until a designated time when fleet management software will initiate charging. ETS, Proterra, and ABB created a first-of-its-kind installation in North America using RFID technology, Wi-Fi, and 2-step authentication that ensures each bus connects to its respective overhead charger.

ETS uses the Proterra APEX™ Connected Vehicle Intelligence System to monitor and manage its fleet of electric buses and charging systems. By using the APEX system, ETS will be able to easily monitor the status of its vehicles and gather information such as state of charge, charger status, bus efficiency, distance traveled, and more. Charge management features keep energy consumption from the chargers below set limits, minimizing electricity costs and ensuring the power draw stays within facility limits. A cloud-based portal also allows ETS to review historical data on vehicle performance, helping inform decisions to optimize operations.

Providing more than 87 million rides a year in Edmonton, ETS currently operates approximately 1,000 diesel buses in a 700-square-kilometer service area. The city of Edmonton has a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by 2030, and ETS plays an important role in achieving this goal. The completion of this project represents a significant milestone in ETS’ efforts to operate a cleaner fleet, reduce operating costs, and modernize service with cutting-edge vehicle technology.