The real story behind Trudeau's pledge for electric buses — and the problems with these lemons

David Menzies reports on what he heard from Brampton Transit workers who have first-hand experience with the city's electric buses and shares the numerous problems they say they've experienced compared to traditional transit vehicles.

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Last Friday, the Trudeau Liberals noted they had some whiz-bang announcement to make about electric buses. It was going to take place somewhere in the Greater Toronto Area (which is about the land mass of a small European country) and slated for 4:15 p.m. The secrecy made for yet another du rigueur ethics code violation.

Unless it’s a cabinet retreat, the municipality and the venue must be named for government press conferences. But that information is seldom is these days because the Liberals don’t want demonstrators to show up. Whatever…

In any event, we guessed, erroneously, that the presser would be taking place in Brampton. Brampton Transit has about 15 EV buses in its fleet and Brampton Transit headquarters was the venue for a similar presser earlier this year. Alas, it turns out that the event took place in Richmond Hill.

But get this: we couldn’t be happier. Because while we were at Brampton Transit headquarters, we hobnobbed with several Brampton Transit employees off camera, all of whom have experience with EV buses. And it’s all negative.

Here’s the skinny re: the problems with electrical buses according to our sources:

  • EV buses are extremely expensive — about $2 million per unit versus about $1.2 million for a diesel bus;
  • these buses need repairs on a DAILY basis;
  • the buses only have a 30-km range;
  • the charging station at the Brampton garage, emblazoned with a Government of Canada logo (your tax dollars hard at work yet again) routinely breaks down;
  • The EV buses must be parked OUTSIDE the Brampton Transit garage in case of fire. EV fires are challenging to extinguish, and if such a fire were to erupt inside the garage, the entire fleet (as well as, presumably, the garage itself), could end up incinerated.

Naturally, none of these issues were touched upon at the Friday presser in Richmond Hill in which the federal government pledged $76 million to help York Region build an electric bus fleet.

Said Trudeau in full public relations mode:

Canadians need to get to work with less traffic, more comfort, and clean air — that’s what public transit is all about. With today’s announcement, York Region will soon have 180 new zero-emission buses and the chargers to go with it. Our government is making our transit system fairer, with innovative, climate-friendly, and affordable options to get you where you need to be.

Forgive us for asking an impolite query, but if electrified public transit is the bee’s knees knew when it comes to “less traffic, more comfort, and clean air” then why does the PM get around town via an entourage encompassing typically eight fossil fuel-burning, full-size, eight-cylinder engine, sport utility vehicles?

But when it comes to the so-called EV evolution envisioned by our prime minister, it’s all upside, no downside.

Thankfully, we found out the reality of the matter via regarding EV buses via those Brampton Transit employees who have to drive and repair these clunkers on a daily basis. And the reality is pretty ugly and is best summarized thusly: pay more; get less.

Please, start the EV “revolution” without us…

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