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BC Transit to allocate electric buses to Whistler

Whistler is one of nine communities to receive an allocation of 66 new electric buses just ordered by BC Transit
A rendering of the type of electric bus to come to Whistler in coming years from Canadian manufacturer New Flyer.

Whistler is in line to have electric buses humming around the community in the near future, with the resort named as one of nine communities set to receive an allocation from the 66 vehicles ordered by BC Transit last week.

BC Transit announced it placed an order for 66 electric buses from two Canadian manufacturers as part of the first phase of a province-wide electrification program that will eventually see 141 buses on provincial roads.

Some of those 66 buses will be coming to Whistler, with Mayor Jack Crompton saying he was pleased Whistler was included in the provincial program.

“We are pleased to see the switch to electric buses take shape and thankful the province chose to include our community in this impactful shift,” he said.

“Every move toward electrification of vehicles takes us one more step in the right direction as we work to hit our GHG-reduction targets.”

Currently, Whistler’s transit network doesn’t have any electric buses in the system, making these the first for the area. The Whistler fleet is made up of 31 compressed natural gas-powered vehicles, which burns cleaner than gasoline or diesel.

The wider electric bus program from BC Transit is part of its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the province, and part of the province’s CleanBC roadmap.

All nine communities receiving an allocation from the order of 66 buses will also receive additional EV infrastructure, with 134 bus charging points set for installation in coming years.

A spokesperson for BC Transit told Pique in an email the timeline for installation of the infrastructure is still in the planning phase.

“Electrification projects are multi-step processes and timelines are unique to each community,” they said.

“For each of these projects, BC Transit has moved into the design phase with engineering firms, which includes creating drawings for construction. Once the design is complete, the construction work can be tendered, and the infrastructure construction projects can start, at which time BC Transit will have more clarity around specific construction start dates.”

They added the infrastructure is expected to be installed ahead of the delivery of the electric buses themselves.

On that point, BC Transit already has 11 charging points installed in Victoria, so Victoria—which is one of the nine communities named in the release—would likely be one of the first communities to receive some of the 66 buses ordered.

The delivery schedule for the buses themselves is fluid, but according to BC Transit they will arrive “incrementally” starting in early 2025 through to mid-2026—for an 18-month delivery window.

Costs for the buses are shared with the Government of Canada, the Province of British Columbia and local government partners, for a total of $395.5 million for the buses and the infrastructure, which was announced in July 2023.

The buses are set to be provided by two Canadian manufacturers, Nova Bus, from Quebec and New Flyer, from Manitoba.

Besides Whistler and Victoria, the communities named in the BC Transit release are Chilliwack, Kamloops, Kelowna, the Regional District of Nanaimo, Nelson, Powell River and Sunshine Coast.