TransLink engaged M.J. Bradley & Associates (MJB&A) to help the agency develop a Low Carbon Fleet Transition Plan that would produce significant reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the Coast Mountain Bus Company (CMBC) fleet, consistent with local and Provincial goals to achieve an 80 percent reduction in economy-wide GHG emissions by 2050. The intent of this project was to develop a technology roadmap – for new bus and fuel purchases between 2020 and 2050 – to achieve the greatest practical GHG reductions, within the constraints of commercial and technical feasibility, projected future service and funding levels, and CMBC service constraints. The current CMBC fleet, which operates throughout metro Vancouver includes almost 1,700 buses, including diesel, natural gas and hybrid electric transit buses, gasoline shuttle buses, and electric trolleys.
The Low Carbon Fleet Transition Plan developed by MJB&A, in conjunction with TransLink and CMBC staff, recommends replacement of existing 40-ft and 60-ft transit buses in the CMBC fleet with new battery electric buses at the end of their useful life, beginning with buses purchased in 2021, and delivered in 2023. Three different investment options are provided for the short term, between 2020 and 2029, but all scenarios anticipate only battery bus purchases after 2030, to achieve complete electrification of these fleets by 2050. The plan recommends that CMBC continue to operate 40-ft diesel highway coaches and gasoline shuttle buses, at least in the short term, with conversion of these bus types to battery-electric (highway, shuttle) or potentially fuel-cell electric vehicles (highway) beginning when the technology is more commercially advanced. The transition plan also recommends that CMBC employ both depot- and in-route charging strategies, with depot charging for slower speed routes through Vancouver, and in-route charging on the higher speed routes through the other municipalities in the region.
Finally, the fleet transition plan recommends that during the transition to electric buses TransLink use low-carbon renewable natural gas (RNG) in existing compressed natural gas buses in the fleet, and also consider using low carbon renewable diesel fuel in existing diesel and hybrid-electric buses when it is commercially available in the Vancouver region.
The recommended plan will reduce annual fleet GHG emissions from the CMBC bus fleet by 90+ percent from 2007 levels in 2050.
For the initial electrification investments between 2020 and 2029, MJB&A developed three different options, which are characterized as Cautious fleet electrification, Progressive fleet electrification, and Aggressive fleet electrification, as they vary significantly in terms of the pace at which TransLink moves toward fleet electrification in the short term, with resulting differences in risk, cost, and short-term GHG reduction. However, all three options can put the CMBC fleet onto the recommended path to full electrification by 2050.
TransLink staff recommended to the Board of Directors and Mayor’s Council that the agency pursue the Aggressive Fleet Electrification path – this recommendation was endorsed in principal by the Mayor’s Council at their February 27, 2020 meeting. The implementation of this strategy will require funding from senior levels of governments.
A TransLink press release about the Mayor’s Council endorsement can be found here.