Saskatoon metropolis council seeks adjustments to transit fleet plan

Saskatoon city council voted to amend recommendations Monday regarding a proposed transit bus fleet strategy after some councilors were left perplexed regarding the future of transit vehicles.

Councilors were discussing the proposed 10-year fleet renewal strategy for nearly an hour with the hopes of approving the recommendations.

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The proposal was a blend of purchasing zero-emission buses and diesel-run buses for the next 10 years beginning in 2023.

Some councilors asked why diesel buses are still considered in transit planning, pushing on the environmental benefits of electric vehicles.

“I’ll say in Canada but other municipalities greater than that who have moved more aggressively in their fleet renewal using zero-emission technology,” Coun. Sarina Gersher suggested when asked for clarification on why diesel buses were being purchased.

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“I would like to pursue a little bit further into understanding a need to consider such a strong mix of diesel at this juncture,” Coun. Cynthia Block stated.

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“My recollection of the pilot project that we did showed pretty clearly the life-cycle benefits,” she added in reference to the electric vehicles.

The current proposal suggests 57 zero-emission buses and 33 diesel-run buses to be purchased by 2023.

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“It’s a bit of a risk-based approach here with implementing technology based on still finding more about what we need to do to enhance the infrastructure to accommodate maybe an accelerated zero-emission vehicle. And as we learn more and we review it every two years to the budget, we may bring forward revised recommendations,” General Manager of Transportation and Construction Terry Schmidt said.

Council agreed to the purchase of zero-emission buses but asked for more research on why diesel buses would still be required.

The administration will now have to revise its proposal and bring it back to the city council for further discussion.

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