Skip to content

Transition to electric buses will cost town more than $100 million over next 20 years

Oakville Transit
Oakville Transit

It will cost the town more than $100 million over the next 20 years to transition to electric buses.

Town staff are in the process of inking a deal with a yet-unnamed company to provide electric charging infrastructure, operations and maintenance over the next two decades.

Details are scarce, and the town is tight-lipped about the deal, despite a report that suggests that an “invitational bid” has resulted in a successful proponent and that contracts have been negotiated by town staff.

On Jan. 30, Oakville council authorized staff to enter into two 20-year contracts with “the successful proponent” of a request for proposal to provide energy infrastructure and energy services to manage fleet electrification.

There was no council discussion before approving a staff report outlining those deals.

An Energy Infrastructure Contract will provide the town with the installation of leased charging infrastructure at a cost of $45.8 million between 2023 and 2032. Annual payments of between $1.9 and $5 million ($4.2 million in 2023) are to be funded from the capital reserve.

An Energy Services Agreement will provide the town with “predictable and reliable energy services” and include operation, maintenance and repair of the energy infrastructure. Operating costs under the 20-year agreement will be between $2.6 and $3.8 million yearly, beginning in 2024.

The town is also signing an $18 million design-build agreement with the company to expand the Oakville Transit facility on Wyecroft Road.

The upgrade will make room for charging infrastructure and provide additional bus lanes for future growth.

However, full garage electrification is not covered by these deals and will require further funding.

These costs also don’t include the purchase price of the electric buses, which grants from the federal and provincial governments will subsidize.

In July 2020, the town announced a six-year plan to replace its diesel fleet with battery electric buses.

Thanks to a $48.6 million grant from the joint federal-provincial Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP), the town planned to buy 57 replacement vehicles and 16 new ones.

That grant will cover about 73.33 per cent of the cost of buying the new buses to 2026, according to the Jan. 30 staff report.

The first care-A-van service buses began arriving this year.

Electric buses for conventional service are expected to arrive by early 2024, and the town now plans to convert about half of its fleet over the next five years.

“In order for the town to continue its transition to electric buses beyond 2026, continued grant funding will be required past the current available ICIP funding,” notes the staff report.

In response to an Oakville News request for the name of the “successful proponent,” we received the following response from communications staff.

“The town is in the final stages of the process and expects to award the contract and finalize all necessary documentation this spring, so details remain confidential.”