Montreal Is Happy With Electric Buses But Initial Costs Were High

EV buses and infrastructure becomes more affordable compared to early models

Montréal would like to purchase only all-electric buses from 2025. The city introduced the first three in May 2017, and now waits for more, after gaining some experience.

Initially, there were not many EV buses to choose from, so Société de transport de Montreal (STM) went with short-range (37 km / 23 mile) buses, combined with three DC fast charging stations (350 kW), that enables to replenish some range in a few minutes. Bus cost was $1.2 million CAD each plus three stations for $0.8 million CAD each. Compared to $0.9 million CAD for conventional buses, it’s more than twice as high.

The buses work fine on line No. 36 (downtown Montreal to the Angrignon métro station in the west), which is just 11 km (6.8 miles) so four more buses will be purchased to electrify the line completely with seven EVs.

Montreal Gazette wrote that the bus project was a success, but electric buses come at a high cost. Probably this is why the city is now purchasing more longer-range buses. 30 to be delivered by New Flyer. Another 4 will be supplied by BYD.

“Eighteen months after the first fully electric buses took to Montreal’s roads on May 24, 2017, the experiment has been “very successful, even beyond our expectations,” said François Chamberland, the STM’s director of engineering, infrastructure and major projects. “It was a North American first, to use rapid-charging technology.””

“At $800,000 apiece, the initial recharging stations were exorbitantly expensive because they were prototypes, but Chamberland said the price will come down now that more companies are producing them.”

The total number of recharges over 135,000 km is 13,000 times. Average fast charge time is three minutes – “less than the anticipated five” – but sometimes up to seven minutes (“caused by winter conditions and busier rush-hour driving”). They are quiet, drive smooth and save 40% on energy/fuel costs.

The New Flyer Xcelsior CHARGE buses with 466 kWh also cost $1.2 million CAD, but don’t require that much of investment in charging infrastructure like the short-range buses.

Before electric buses mature and become even more affordable, STM will purchase 929 hybrid-diesel buses by 2024. It means that the last one will be still in use in 2040.


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