Manuel Achadinha steps onto the electric bus and quickly finds a place to stand.
There is a slight hum as the vehicle, equipped with batteries instead of a gas tank, and solar panels on the roof, rolls out of the B.C. Transit yard in Victoria and heads for Douglas Street.
There is a blast of air as the driver rides the brake as the made-in-China bus rounds the corner.
“I think this is the future,” said Achadinha, B.C. Transit president and CEO. “I think we’re a couple of years away.”
He unveiled the e-bus last Thursday, manufactured by BYD (Build Your Dreams) Company, as well as an Alexander Dennis double-decker bus, outfitted with a new Cummins engine that burns less fuel, but has the same horsepower.
The electric bus was in Victoria for four days to give B.C. Transit mechanics the chance to look under the hood. The vehicle costs $650,000, plus $40,000 for an electric charging dock, and can travel up to 250 kilometres on a single charge, though Achadinha prefers buses that can travel 400 kilometres.
“I think this is very reasonable in terms of our cost,” Achadinha said. “We’re paying half a million dollars for a regular bus.” The electric model would also save fuel, which costs B.C. Transit $25 million a year province-wide.
B.C. Transit bought the first diesel-electric double-decker bus in North America in 2010, and the same year launched the world’s largest fleet of 20 zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell buses in Whistler.