In a move that will place Edmonton at the head of the pack in terms of the integration of electric buses into major transit systems across Canada, the City in conjunction with ETS has announced its plans to purchase a fleet of 25 electric buses set to go into service by 2020. California-based Proterra has won the contract, and will soon send two test buses to Edmonton, to be followed up by the rest of the order to be filled over the course of the next two years. 

Proterra Catalyst E2 Max Electric Bus, image via City of Edmonton

Viewed above, the Proterra Catalyst E2 Max Electric Bus is winter compatible and has a reported range of 400 kilometres. Rated as 40% more efficient than the fleet of diesel-powered buses that Edmonton and many other cities currently use, the switch-over to electric buses could net a vast savings in terms of fuel costs and carbon emissions. Mechanically much simpler than an internal combustion engine, projected maintenance costs could be much lower as well. 

Back to the Future? Image by Flickr user Bill Burris via Creative Commons

Split between the City, Province, and Feds, the implementation cost is pegged at $43 million, part of which will be spent on specialized infrastructure, including charging stations and updated maintenance facilities. Should the pilot and initial acquisition prove successful, the ETS could very well be on a path towards the full electrification of its three major modes of public transportation - similar to its operation more than a century ago.

Will Edmonton go back to the (transit) future? Are electric buses up to the challenge of Edmonton's northern climate? Let us know what you think in the comments section below!