Harbour authority aims to trim emissions with double-decker electric bus


Responding to complaints from James Bay residents about emissions from buses and cruise ships at Ogden Point, the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority is putting a new electric double-decker bus into service.

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Chief executive Ian Robertson said the bus, which arrived in Victoria Tuesday afternoon, is more than a symbolic gesture — the authority takes emission complaints seriously.

‘‘It’s a real commitment, and it’s a commitment that we understand we need to find ways to mitigate the impact (of emissions),” said Robertson. He took fire from James Bay residents on the issues of pollution, transportation, noise and waterfront access at a public meeting Tuesday night.

‘‘It will never be perfect or satisfy all the people, but we recognize the impact and we are taking steps to mitigate that and I think that is the most important thing.”

The bus, which cost $1.3 million US, is a partnership of CVS Tours, GreenPower Motor Company, Western Stevedoring and the harbour authority. It will be in service Oct. 8, after an official “unplugging” at Ogden Point Oct. 7. CVS Tours will test it on its route between the Empress Hotel and Butchart Gardens.

“We are modernizing our fleet. We were the first to use bio-diesel made from cooking oil. Now this is our next step to move into an even more energy efficient and low-emission transportation idea,” said CVS Tours general manager David Roberts. “If this works, our goal is to get more of them.”

Currently, CVS uses five double-deckers and 12 coaches.

Roberts said the electric bus, which is going through road trials at Victoria International Airport this week, will be tested and monitored through the year to ensure the new technology works and to determine the costs associated with a fully electric engine.

The bus can seat 99 people plus standees and has a range of 400 kilometres on a single charge.

Roberts said it has turned heads already — people see it coming but can’t hear it coming.

“It’s completely silent. There is no noise and no emissions,” he said. It also got up to speed on the highway and travelled at 90 kilometres per hour with no problem.

The 45-foot-long bus is the first purpose-built, fully electric double decker in North America. Others have been converted from their diesel engines. It will offer passengers free WiFi and charging ports at each seat.

Roberts hopes they will be able to get 12 to 20 years of service out of the bus.

He noted CVS is continually updating its fleet of coaches with plans to ensure all of its buses are no older than six years.

“It’s a huge expenditure,” he said of the $4.1 million US pricetag for 12 newer coaches. “But we believe the environment, the people of James Bay and our customers are worth it.”

Robertson said that the new bus is just one step to deal with the problem of emissions at Ogden Point. The harbour authority has offered financial incentives to have tour operators use more modern and efficient buses, and is exploring options to provide power to ships, limiting the time cruise ships use their own engines for power while in port.


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