E-Buses: Welcome To Light-Rail 2, The Nightmare

 

The City of Ottawa has borrowed about $1 billion to operated electric buses. In Minnesota, e-buses have failed.

And remember, Minnesota has a very similar climate compared to Ottawa’s. We have created the next light-rail fiasco.

Does no one at Ottawa City Hall ever learn?

Both the Twin Cities and Duluth have had problems with their battery-electric buses. For one, they can’t go as far as their builders advertised, in part because of the cold weather. Metro Transit’s accordion electric buses were touted to go 150 miles on a single charge. “Using garage chargers alone, electric buses can remain in service for 70 to 75 miles before needing to return to the garage; with on-route chargers, electric buses were scheduled to be in service for up to 90 miles before returning to the garage,” Metro Transit spokesperson Drew Kerr said.

Metro Transit’s battery-electric buses are also less reliable than their diesel-fueled counterparts. A September 2023 presentation to the Met Council’s Transportation Committee showed the battery-electric buses broke down twice as often. The buses were also unable to meet 20% of their scheduled operating miles because they needed battery replacements, which were performed under warranty amid supply chain issues. However, their reliability is better than what it was in 2021, when they were out of service for most of the year because the agency could not charge them at their garage.


Duluth also had “every possible issue” with the chargers for the city’s battery-electric buses, which are proprietary. “They would fail, they would not perform, they would experience malfunctions, glitches. They were extremely problematic right out of the gate,” spokesperson Dave Clark said.

Duluth also had problems with its battery-electric bus fleet. Between April 2019 and February 2020, the fleet averaged 7,717 miles between breakdowns, four times as often compared to their diesel counterparts.

To read the full story of Minnesota’s nightmare with e-buses and Ottawa’s future LRT Disaster II, click here for the tale of woe from MinnPost.

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3 Responses

  1. C from Kanata says:

    Say there is another long-term power failure. City has 1 diesel generator at the St. Laurent Station. There are 2 types of buses – quick charge (short range) or long charge (long range). The long range buses is what Ottawa is getting, and they take 6 to 8 hours to go to a 90% charge, which is the maximum they charge them to. This is a quote from the Montreal transit site. The Mayor is fond of saying that Ottawa has one of the largest geographical areas of any city in Canada. With a range of 270Km, that is 4 trips back and forth to Kanata, Orleans or Barrhaven with enough reserve to get them back safely to the garage to wait 8 hours for charging to bet back on the road. Much less if it is in the winter. So how many can they charge at the same time on 1 diesel generator? For fun, lets say 10. So say the buses can operate for 4 hours for these 4 trips, conceivably, that could mean that for half the time, there will be no e-buses on the road for extended power failures. Emergency preparedness is essential. When there is a fire, especially in the winter, the city dispatches buses to keep people warm instead of waiting outside at -25C. During the ice storm from 2000, the city diesel buses keep chugging along and provided essential transportation for the city including medical staff, especially those who work in Long-term care homes who often do not have cars for transportation. E-buses are fine as long as the city invests in the infrastructure required to maintain the same functions and service. They haven’t made those investments. Instead they have done a half-assed job with this infrastructure.

  2. Ron Benn says:

    “C”, do you think that anyone down at city hall sees the irony in using a diesel fueled generator to charge e-buses?

  3. sisco farraro says:

    If people working at city hall take a minute to sit and think where will cities who do care about doing things correctly be able to do their research. By now Ottawa has probably become the world-renowned city for how not to do anything right. Ottawa must continue to move forward with its hair-brained, non-researched, poorly-planned activities. The rest of the world is counting on us to find out how NOT to do things!

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