LC3 Case Studies
Recently, Quebec adopted a law and regulatory plans to accelerate the electrification of school bus fleets by March 2024, with the goal of replacing 65% of Quebec’s school bus fleet by 2030. Considering that the current electrification rate of school buses in Quebec is only 1%, this would require an annual replacement rate of 570 diesel buses until 2030, which raises concerns about the feasibility of the project among the Quebec Bus Operators Association, the Federation of Bus Transporters (FTA, Fédération des transporteurs par autobus).
While there are few technical implementation risks, financial and behavioural changes are a major concern for operators and managers who will need to replace entire fleets of vehicles and business models in a very short amount of time. This is why the Greater Montreal Climate Fund (GMCF) and Propulsion Quebec are offering a solution focused on local climate goals and community priorities.
A climate solution with multiple social benefits
Even though this project won’t decarbonize the entire school bus sector in Quebec, we shouldn’t underestimate the importance of removing diesel vehicles from the roads and municipalities. Electrifying 65% of Quebec’s school buses by 2030 would result in a reduction of 800,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions (programme d’électrification du transport scolaire, Ministère des Transports, Québec). More importantly, this initiative is a perfect example of the community benefits and cost savings that adopting such a climate solution can bring. The GMCF estimates that its own smaller-scale infrastructure, leasing, and awareness programs could save $151 million for Quebec’s healthcare system.
Furthermore, school buses emit dangerous microparticles on their routes and in schoolyards, with higher concentrations in urban areas, which are likely responsible for dozens of premature deaths and person-years of life lost each year in Quebec alone. The proposed transformation would therefore contribute to improving air quality throughout the province and reducing the effects of pollution on students, bus drivers, and the general population. Finally, the project should also indirectly create jobs or professional development opportunities as part of a larger movement that will promote the assembly of electric buses and heavy vehicles, as well as regional manufacturing and value chains, while stimulating local economic activity through the infrastructure improvements that the project will help build.
Promoting large-scale adoption of electric bus fleets
Propulsion Quebec is a cluster of companies funded by the government and industry and focused on integrating electric and intelligent transportation in Quebec. Its goal is to support the electrification of school bus fleets by providing operators with access to a digital guide that mitigates their concerns, provides training resources, and outlines the necessary steps for a smooth transition to decarbonizing fleets. This guide presents a complete value chain map of electric school buses (from vehicle acquisition to use and retirement), the corresponding governance structure, and the process of planning the migration from a diesel fleet to a zero-emission fleet.
The digital guide is designed to help owners of small parks with limited resources to create an environment that is conducive to the implementation of electrification and the necessary investments. In addition, the GMCF will also rely on related initiatives and private investors who are already active in order to offer financing mechanisms for the purchase of buses and the necessary infrastructure to support the electrification of heavy vehicles. This way, the GMCF can serve as a catalyst for the necessary transformation of the sector, while continuing to learn more about the transport markets and players to design relevant tools and support mechanisms.
As part of the LC3 partnership approach, the GMCF’s contribution of $20,000 to this project complements a coalition of multiple stakeholders from various sectors, including Propulsion Québec, the Trottier Family Foundation, the Fédération des travailleurs du Québec (FTQ) Fund, the Quebec Ministry of the Environment and the Fight Against Climate Change (MELCC), as well as bus park operators and managers.
As part of this collaboration, the GMCF aims to identify and facilitate the necessary changes in systems and to accelerate the rapid adoption of electric school bus technology to accelerate the sector’s transformation.