Plans to upgrade Kamloops Transit’s full fleet of buses to compressed natural gas (CNG) powered vehicles that come with modern features like Closed Circuit TV (CCTV) received the green light from city council yesterday after a successful pilot that showed these buses to perform well in all four seasons while garnering significant savings in operating costs.
Following the construction of a fast-fill fuelling station, 25 CNG buses have been in operation for over a year and another 19 will begin arriving in early 2017 to replace the remaining diesel buses – making Kamloops a fully CNG-enabled transit community.
“The results from the CNG pilot programs in Kamloops and Nanaimo have been a resounding success,” said Todd Stone, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “Not only are these buses a cleaner-burning fuel alternative that benefits our environment and furthers the Province’s action plan to reduce emissions, but they’ve proven to be more cost-effective than their diesel counterparts. This is a win-win investment with positive impacts for the long-term.”
This investment is part of the recently established Public Transit Infrastructure Fund that is providing BC Transit-served communities with almost $160 million in federal and provincial funding for transit improvement projects throughout the province.
“A good public transit system can lead to a healthier and more active population, which is one of the many benefits of our investment,” said Health Minister Terry Lake, and MLA for Kamloops-North Thompson. “These new, cleaner buses will also reduce greenhouse gases and create a healthier environment for residents in my community.”
Along with the environmental benefits, the new CNG buses will come with modern technologies to bring Kamloops into the 21st century of transit ridership. Upon their arrival in early 2017, all Kamloops buses will be equipped with Closed Circuit TV to increase the safety of passengers and drivers. BC Transit will also go to tender this fall for new, real-time technology that will allow customers to access precise schedule information to plan their trips with more accuracy.
“The investment in CNG reinforces our commitment to sustainable solutions while providing cost effective services to the community of Kamloops,” said Manuel Achadinha, chief executive officer and president of BC Transit. “These new buses will also be equipped with CCTV cameras, which will improve safety and security on the entire Kamloops bus fleet.”
The City of Kamloops is projecting a savings of approximately $290,000 in operating costs for 2017 as a result of the 19 new CNG buses.
“This step toward modernizing Kamloops’ transit service is an exciting move for the city,” said Peter Milobar, mayor of Kamloops. “We’re projecting solid cost savings with the capacity to grow over time and the environmental savings are something our city can take pride in – it is my hope that more people will choose to take transit as our services continue to improve for a better customer experience overall.”
The investments in new buses and enhanced technology represent the first phase of the Public Transit Infrastructure Fund. BC Transit will continue to work with local governments to identify priority projects for the second phase of the federal-provincial funding.
In partnership with local governments, BC Transit provides access to public transit to more than 1.6 million British Columbians in 130 communities outside Metro Vancouver. As a result of our commitment to transit in B.C., communities with as few as 1,000 people have access to transit making BC Transit a unique service for smaller communities anywhere in Canada.
The Province also provides the highest level of operating funding support, per capita, for transit in Canada.