TransLink is testing the next generation of battery electric buses

Nova’s test battery electric bus. The design will be different for permanent buses. Photo Credit: Derek Cheung/CMBC

As part of our Climate Action Strategy, TransLink is replacing older diesel buses with battery electric buses to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Currently, we have four battery electric buses in service and 15 more on the way. To ensure that these 15 new buses will be effective and efficient for many years to come, we are testing a demo bus provided by Nova Bus.

Here’s a breakdown of what we’re testing on Nova’s LFSe+ battery electric bus:

Distance

These new Nova buses should be able to travel more than 150 kilometers on a single charge, even during the winter months. This is something we are testing to get a clear picture of capabilities before they go live.

The two Nova buses we currently have in service can only travel around 40 kilometers on a single charge, so the new model would be a major upgrade. This means that the ones we have now must constantly use on-road charging stations to serve customers throughout the day. Newer models should have more flexibility with charging frequency.

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To ensure that the battery electric buses can charge continuously throughout the day, we use overhead fast charging stations on the route. These chargers:

  • Recharge our battery electric buses for the next trip in less than six minutes.
  • Can recharge buses while passengers are boarding.
  • Use an automated aerial mechanism that charges quickly through the roof of the bus.

We currently have two fast charging stations located at 22nd Street Bus Exchange and Marpole Loop – one manufactured by ABB and the other by Siemens. We are currently testing this new Nova Bus model to ensure that they work with these chargers and meet or exceed the charging capabilities of the buses in service that we currently have.

Operability in winter

Battery electric buses operate differently in winter than in summer. Most of the differences are minor, like slower acceleration and slower charging capabilities, but those minor differences can have a major impact on planning. To give our planners more information, we test vehicle efficiency, how quickly buses start in the morning, their ability to accelerate, and charging speeds during winter.

TransLink tests a demonstration battery electric bus from Nova Bus at the Marpole fast charging station

Once the tests are complete, we will use the results to possibly request modifications to the 15 buses before we receive them to ensure they operate effectively and efficiently for many years to come. It will also help inform our decisions about which battery electric bus drives we will make in the future.

Other facts about battery electric buses:

  • Each battery-electric bus saves approximately 100 tonnes of GHG annually compared to a conventional diesel bus.
  • TransLink plans to replace over 400 diesel buses with battery electric buses by 2030.
    • This will equate to over 40,000 tonnes of GHGs per year.
  • TransLink plans to have a fleet of zero-emission buses by 2040.
  • Each battery-electric bus saves TransLink approximately $40,000 in fuel annually, compared to a conventional diesel bus.

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