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OC Explained: Zero Emission Bus Project

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Zero Emission Bus on the streets of Ottawa (January 2023)

Less greenhouse gas emissions, same great service and lower operating costs.

Sounds good, doesn’t it?

That’s exactly what OC Transpo is working toward as we transition our bus fleet from diesel to electric.

On February 1, Council approved our plan to proceed with adding 26 zero emission buses (ZEBs) in 2024. We also received approval to move ahead with facility upgrades that will help charge and maintain our growing electric bus fleet.

This is a major milestone as we work to fully convert to a zero-emission bus fleet by 2036.

This is an important project and we’re excited to tell you more about it.

Meet our Zero Emission Buses

We have four 40-foot New Flyer XE40 battery-electric buses. These buses were launched in 2022 as part of a pilot project. After one year in service, they have met our expectations and have been resilient in all weather conditions.

Before our new buses hit the streets, we retrofitted one of our garages to house, charge, and maintain the vehicles. We charge our buses using an overhead pantograph. The pantograph is attached to the roof of the garage and is protected from wind, rain, snow and ice.

How are we paying for these buses?

In June 2021, Ottawa City Council directed staff to purchase ZEBs for all future transit bus fleet needs, as long as the buses meet the City’s operational needs and are affordable.  

Due to generous support from the Government of Canada, OC Transpo is able to buy ZEBs at the same price of what a diesel bus would cost.

Electric buses are purchased with a combination of City funds, a $350 million loan from Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) and a $380 million grant from Infrastructure Canada. The City will contribute what normally would be spent on a diesel bus, with CIB and INFC providing money to cover the extra cost of the electric bus.

As part of the agreement with CIB, loan repayment will only come from OC Transpo’s actual energy and maintenance cost savings achieved over the life of the zero-emission buses. This ensures that loan repayment comes only from real savings achieved.

For a detailed explanation of how we are working with our funding partners, watch our latest Transit Commission update.

What can you expect next?

As our diesel buses near their end of life, we plan to gradually replace them with electric buses. Here is how many e-buses we are expecting to be delivered over the next four years:

  • 26 in 2024
  • 77 in 2025
  • 110 in 2026
  • 137 in late 2026

In 2023, we’ll begin retrofitting work within our facilities at 1500 St. Laurent to accommodate the new electrical infrastructure. Design work will also begin on a new covered garage. Moving forward, we will make requests for ZEB purchases as part of the City’s annual budget approval process.

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0:00 OC Transpo electric bus in garage Quick charge in 4 hours
0:06 OC Transpo electric bus leaving the garage. Each bus has over 50,000 in service KMs
0:16 OC Transpo electric bus leaving the garage About 350 km range. Exceeds standards.
0:26 OC Transpo electric bus leaving Hurdman station Quiet and comfortable trip for customers.External acoustic vehicle alerting system.
0:33 OC Transpo electric bus driving up a snowy hill Performs well during Ottawa winter storms.
0:42 OC Transpo electric bus driving on a road ZEBs have completed trips across every community.
0:51 OC Transpo electric bus driving up a snowy hill We are ready to electrify our fleet
0:57 Animated graphic: OC Transpo

Electrification of OC Transpo

When talking about the importance of going green, it would be remiss not to mention OC Transpo’s fully electric O-Train Line 1 light rail transit (LRT) system.

Launched in 2019, O-Train Line 1 offers customers a 12.5-km fully electric light-rail service between Tunney’s Pasture and Blair Stations from the west to the east of the city. The system can accommodate 10,700 passengers per hour, and travels end-to-end in less than 25 minutes. Work is currently underway to expand our O-Train system by adding an extension to the south, east, and west. Visit to learn more.

We all envision a more green, clean, and sustainable earth – and OC Transpo is doing its part to help make that a reality.

Stay up to date on our Zero Emission Bus project by visiting the link below.

Read more about the Zero Emission Bus