Staff Report #3 – Zero-Emission Bus Implementation Strategy Update

Staff Report #3

August 25, 2021

To All Commissioners

Re: Zero-Emission Bus Implementation Strategy Update


That the Commission:

  1. DIRECT administration to work with civic administration to create a Business Case for the initial zero-emission bus implementation of 10 40’ battery electric buses and seven chargers (three overhead and four plug in), including the identification of potential sources for funding for the initiative, which will be forwarded to Municipal Council as part of the 2022 Budget deliberation process; and
  2. DIRECT administration to continue discussions with CUTRIC with respect to London’s participation in a Zero-Emission Bus (ZEB) turn-key joint procurement initiative which will assist transit agencies and operators in leveraging the economies of scale associated with ZEBs and allied charging/fueling infrastructure.


At the April 28, 2021 meeting, the Commission approved the award of a contract to the Canadian Urban Transit Research and Innovation Consortium (CUTRIC) for the completion of a Zero-Emission Bus (ZEB) Implementation Strategy. In addition, the Commission directed administration to continue discussions with CUTRIC with respect to participation in a Phase 2 ZEB trial and joint procurement initiative intended to assist transit agencies and operators in leveraging the economies of scale associated with ZEBs and allied charging/fueling infrastructure.

In order to ensure that the required information and cost estimates associated with the 2022 operating and capital budgets would be available within the required timelines, the contract called for a First Impression Report, which would include recommendations for the initial introduction of ZEBs and the related required infrastructure into the LTC fleet (see Enclosure I for Commissioners only).

When preparing the First Impression Report, CUTRIC relied on the data and analysis undertaken in the Detailed Fleet Electrification Analysis, as well as extensive stakeholder engagement and lessons learned from the transit agencies participating in the Pan Canadian Electric Bus Demonstration & Integration Trial. As set out in the report recommendations, there are two key recommendations included in the First Impression Report, each of which is discussed in greater detail below.

Bus and Equipment Recommendations

The recommended approach for London Transit’s initial deployment of ZEBs as outlined in the First Impressions Report calls for a procurement of 10 40’ battery electric buses (BEBs) with 400-500 kWh battery packs which represents approximately 5% of the conventional transit fleet as well as the related charging infrastructure to support the 10 buses including three high-powered overhead charging units (installed at facility or on-road) and four low-powered plug-in charging units (installed at facility).

As the report outlines, an initial deployment of 10 buses will assist LTC in understanding the full BEB operation and maintenance without overwhelming the operations, maintenance and management teams. It will also provide for some spare ratio flexibility within the BEB fleet to be able to address failures, which are an inherent part of any initial deployment relying on new technology.

With respect to the recommended charging infrastructure, the combination of both overhead and plug-in charging units will provide the required exposure and experience with both units, which will be required in order to successfully convert the entire fleet over time.

While final costs cannot be determined until such time as a procurement has been undertaken, CUTRIC has collected insights from three BEB manufacturers in North America, one who is also engaged in the development of charging equipment. Two additional manufactures of charging equipment were also consulted in order to gather commercial pricing information about what is currently available on the market. The table below sets out the range of capital costs that can be expected for each element of the ZEB implementation. It should be noted that the cost estimates do not include the operating cost implications relating to the required staff training, nor additional staff (or external resources) that will be required to manage the implementation. Given the timelines associated with decisions respecting this project, any operating budget adjustment requirements for the 2022 fiscal year will be included as part of the budget recosting that will be tabled for the Commission’s consideration in March 2022.

Capital Cost Estimates – Initial Zero-Emission Bus Implementation

ZEB Implementation Element Units Low High
40’ Battery Electric Bus 10 $ 8,000,000 $ 11,100,000
High-powered Overhead Charging Equipment 3 870,000 2,160,000
· Civil works for installation 522,000 1,300,000
Low-powered plug-in charging equipment 4 340,000 880,000
Facility work re: grid connection upgrade 100,000 10,000,000
Data collection and analytics through data loggers 520,000 520,000
$10,352,000 $ 25,960,000

The significant variance between the low and high estimates above is related to the estimates for the facility work that may be required to upgrade the grid connection to provide for the required electricity to operate the charging infrastructure. A detailed site visit and review will be required as well as consultations with London Hydro before a more finite estimate can be provided here. The range is based on experience of other properties, where, in some cases, an on-site sub-station is required to support the implementation. The detailed site visits were unable to be completed in time to be included in this report; however, they are currently scheduled for the end of August (subject to any COVID restrictions that may be in place at the time). It is anticipated that the range between the high and low estimates relating to the facility work will be able to be better estimated prior to the completion of the business case or funding application is completed.

The other item that is not included in the estimates above is any land costs that may be associated with the installation of remote chargers along designated routes. At this early stage it is premature to determine which routes may be the first to be converted, and as such it is not possible to determine where the optimal locations for remote chargers may be. Recommendations for locations for remote charging infrastructure will be included in the final ZEB Implementation Strategy. This should not impede the development of a business case or funding application as Provincial and Federal funding does not typically cover land costs. As such, a separate source of funding will need to be identified for this aspect of the project once more information is known.

Joint Procurement Initiative

The second part of the report recommendation calls for administration to continue discussions with CUTRIC with respect to LTC’s participation in a CUTRIC-led joint procurement (JPI) for a turn-key solution. This procurement would see multiple transit agencies participate in a procurement for both the bus and charging infrastructure, resulting in a turn-key solution for the initial rollout. There are numerous benefits to this approach, including but not limited to the following:

  • facilitates knowledge and experience sharing among transit agencies;
  • optimize resource utilization across participating transit agencies;
  • leverages CUTRIC’s national network of transit agencies to share knowledge with respect to ZEB technologies and fill in knowledge gaps going forward;
  • contributes to the development of a scalable and potentially reusable procurement template for future procurements for LTC as well as other transit agencies;
  • turn-key approach provides the participating agencies with all of the required infrastructure to introduce ZEBs into the fleet, and results in the requirement for bus and charging equipment OEMs to work in tandem to ensure a smoother rollout; and
  • incorporation of a data analytics requirement into the JPI will ensure that participating agencies are collecting data in a similar fashion, making it more useful for comparison purposes going forward.

Over the last few years, administration has participated in working groups and committees formed to enable information sharing across the sector with respect to ZEB technology and implementations. One of the biggest lessons learned by those agencies that have begun their implementations is that the bus procurement is the easy part of the transition. Bus procurement at transit agencies is something that occurs on a regular basis and staff are equipped to undertake these procurements; however, the related and required infrastructure that goes with a ZEB deployment is not something that transit agencies are familiar with, nor do they have the expertise in house. LTC administration does not currently have the expertise required to create the specifications for a charging infrastructure procurement, and as such, will need to participate in a joint initiative of this nature, or rely on outside contracted services to develop the requirements and procurement process.

Another key lesson learned is the requirement for a dedicated team, who have been equipped with the requisite training, to work through the implementation. Given the current capacity of the LTC’s organizational structure on the administrative side as compared to existing workload and committed work plan initiatives, it is likely that additional resources will be required to be dedicated to the ZEB implementation in order to ensure it is successful. Details with respect to additional staffing requirements will be included in the final ZEB Implementation Strategy, scheduled to be presented to the Commission at the February 2022 meeting (delayed from the initial November 2021 date due to COVID).

Given the workload requirements of a JPI of this nature, it is anticipated there will be a participation fee for transit systems wishing to participate. As set out in the First Impression Report, this fee is anticipated to be in the $50,000 range.

Administration has participated in a number of meetings with respect to the CUTRIC JPI and the finalization of the preferred approach is expected in the coming weeks. Based on timelines required for approvals and resource requirements for CUTRIC and participating transit agencies, the following high-level timeline has been drafted. It should be noted that this timeline is tentative and could be subject to shifts as the process is finalized.

Preliminary Timeline for the CUTRIC Joint Procurement

Key Milestone Tentative Date
Confirmation of participation by transit agencies Dec/21
Completion of RFI Process Mar/22
Release of RFP June/22
Finalization of RFP – Contract Award Oct/22

Based on current delivery schedules, it can be expected that buses and charging infrastructure would be delivered within a year from the contract award. This delivery expectation is highly dependent upon the ability of the equipment manufactures to ramp up to deliver what is expected to be much higher quantity orders as applications for Federal funding are approved and systems move forward with purchases. The period between the contract award and receipt of equipment would be utilized to undertake any required facility upgrades/retrofits in preparation for the transition to ZEB technology as well as to undertake the required training for LTC staff that will be integral to the rollout.

Zero-Emission Transit Fund

On February 10, 2021, the Federal Government announced plans to spend an additional $14.9 billion over the next eight years on public transportation projects across Canada. Earlier this month, further details with respect to the component of the fund intended to support the transition to ZEB’s were released. Through the Zero-Emission Transit Fund, the Government of Canada is investing $2.75 billion over five years, starting in 2021, to support public transit and school bus operators plan for electrification, support the purchase of 5,000 zero-emission buses and build supporting infrastructure, including charging infrastructure and facility upgrades. There are two Zero-Emission Transit Fund components under which projects are eligible for funding:

  • Planning and Design Projects: Eligible projects include studies, modelling and feasibility analysis that will support the development of future larger scale capital projects; and
  • Capital Projects: Eligible capital projects include buses, charging and refueling infrastructure, and other ancillary infrastructure needs.

Current understanding with respect to the Planning and Design Projects portion of the funding is that it is intended to cover up to 80% of the costs associated with the planning of a ZEB implementation. This would include the ZEB Implementation Strategy as well as Detailed Route Analysis. It is not clear at this time whether projects that are already underway will be eligible for this funding.

With respect to the capital projects component of the project, an expression of interest form has been released by Infrastructure Canada to be completed by transit agencies interested in funding. There are a number of outstanding questions relating to the details of this funding program which the Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA) and CUTRIC are working to clarify. The aspects of the program that are known at this time are set out below.

  • Infrastructure Canada and the Canada Infrastructure Bank will work in collaboration in order to support the transition to zero-emission buses. Through the Zero-Emission Transit Fund, Infrastructure Canada provides funding contributions to support planning and capital projects that will reduce the barriers to procuring zero emission transit and school buses in Canada. Through its $1.5 billion Zero-Emission Bus initiative, the Canada Infrastructure Bank provides flexible financing solutions by leveraging forecasted lifecycle operational cost savings to help offset the higher upfront costs of zero-emission buses. Project applications submitted as part of the application process will be assessed by both Infrastructure Canada and the Canada Infrastructure Bank.
  • Confirmation of funding for projects under this program will be subject to the completion of a detailed fleet electrification analysis as well as an implementation strategy
  • The federal share of the funding will be up to 50% of the total cost of the project, there is no requirement for matching Provincial contributions
  • There is no time limit with respect to funding requests under this program

Further clarification with respect to this funding program is not anticipated to be available until the Federal election is complete and a Minister of Infrastructure has been appointed and provided a mandate, noting the election outcome could have significant impacts on this program.

Administration will continue to monitor this program and will work with civic administration to complete any forms or expressions of interest required to ensure that London continues to be in a position to receive a share of this funding going forward.


I – CUTRIC ZEB First Impressions Report (Commissioners only)

Recommended by:

Craig Morneau, Director of Fleet & Facilities

Mike Gregor, Director of Finance

Katie Burns, Director of Planning

Shawn Wilson, Director of Operations

Concurred in by:

Kelly S. Paleczny, General Manager