The Manitoba Energy Council supports the recommendation of the administration of the City of Winnipeg to Council to approve the launch of a study on purchasing electric buses with provision for charging and maintenance.


  1. The change to electric buses is inevitable. We are in a disruptive period of history where transportation is moving to electric mobility. The following cities have initiated the move to electric buses:

Edmonton with an initial purchase of 25 electric buses from Proterra, winter-compatible and with a range of 400 km.

• Montreal and Laval with 40 Xcelsior electric buses from New Flyer.

• Shenzhen, a major city in southern China with a population of 12.5 million, with the recently earned distinction of being the world's first to electrify its entire transit fleet. That's 16,359 buses (almost three times the bus fleet of New York City or 28 times that of Winnipeg), now all-electric, with the transition taking place in the span of only six years.

• Lancaster, a small city in California, with a plan for a complete transition of its 85-bus fleet by the end of 2018 according to Reed Saxon/The Associated Press. It is significant that the Chinese electric bus manufacturer BYD is backed by Warren Buffett and has established its manufacturing plant in Lancaster to build 1,400 e-buses annually for the U.S. market. BYD will be New Flyer’s greatest e-bus competitor – a good reason for Winnipeg to think forward and move into purchasing e-buses to provide a competitive chance for New Flyer to develop.

• The electrification trend is spreading fast. New York City, home to America’s largest bus network, says its 5,700 buses will be all-electric by 2040. Los Angeles, the second-largest bus fleet, will convert all 2,300 buses to electric by 2030. San Francisco, home to 1,100 municipal buses, just announced it will be all-electric by 2035 and will purchase exclusively electric buses by 2025.

  1. Human health risk assessment for diesel exhaust. Health Canada completed the Human Health Risk Assessment for Diesel Exhaust. “Overall, it is concluded that diesel emission is associated with significant population health impacts in Canada and efforts should continue to further reduce emissions of and human exposures to diesel emission” (emphasis added).

  2. Cost of e-buses. In the Winnipeg Free Press article on 2 January 2019 reporting that the City of Winnipeg administration is recommending a study on e-buses, Greg Ewankiw, Director of Winnipeg Transit, is quoted as saying it currently costs about $1.2 million to buy a 12-metre, battery-electric bus, compared to $600,000 for a same-sized diesel bus. This is a serious matter that New Flyer must address. If BYD establishes a manufacturing plant in Windsor, Ontario, and produce an e-bus that meets Canadian safety standards, then the e-bus price will have to drop.

Consider Santiago, Chile which has taken delivery of 100 e-buses from BYD and which is working on developing a market for e-bus sales in South America in collaboration with ENEL, one of Europe’s largest electric utilities ( Can this be a model for New Flyer and Manitoba Hydro?

Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) reports batteries will only comprise 8% of the total electric bus cost by 2030, down from 26% in 2016, making electric buses cheaper to buy than diesel, even on an unsubsidized basis. BNEF says if battery costs fall faster than projected, electric buses could reach unsubsidized cost parity with diesel around 2025.

  1. Manitoba Hydro is moving toward a surplus of electric energy that it is exporting unprofitably. This is causing our electricity rates to rise. Since 2009, the average price of electricity exported by Manitoba Hydro is 4 cents/KWh with little chance of it increasing, under normal conditions. Every KWh an e-bus takes when it is charging is a KWh that is not exported at 4 cents or less. Presumably, the City of Winnipeg can come to a contract with Manitoba Hydro that will be at an acceptable industrial price for the electricity the City will require. The great benefit will be in not importing diesel fuel. Manitoba’s carbon footprint will be reduced as our hydro-energy replaces imported diesel. Moreover, the money saved will stay in the province. In addition, the better price Manitoba Hydro receives for supplying the energy to charge e-buses instead of exporting, largely into the low-valued spot market, will mitigate its growing debt.

  2. The design, installation, operation and maintenance of charging facilities will require skilled personnel. Presumably, in the initial stages, this will be a joint undertaking of Winnipeg Transit, Manitoba Hydro and New Flyer, with trained contractors helping with the work. This should not be perceived as a financial burden. Instead, a proper benefit and cost assessment should be undertaken to ensure profitability. With benefits and costs accruing over a period of time, such as a dozen years, the charging facilities will be profitable if, over that time, the benefit/cost ratio exceeds 1.0 on a present-value basis.

Ideas for the e-bus study. These ideas are brought forward for consideration during the proposed e-bus study. It is inevitable that the City of Winnipeg will switch to e-buses. The proposed study is essential toward that end.