Ron Cantelon

Ron Cantelon

New Regional District of Nanaimo transit buses to run on natural gas

NANAIMO - The RDN will be home to B.C. Transit's first compressed natural gas transit fleet

The Regional District of Nanaimo was the natural choice for B.C. Transit’s first compressed natural gas (CNG) fleet of buses, said Manuel Achadinha, president and CEO of B.C. Transit.

On Friday, the regional district, along with B.C. Transit, announced the addition of 25 new CNG buses which will be in service by spring 2014.

B.C. Transit is looking to replace about 35 per cent of its fleet (approximately 1,000 buses) over the next five years and considered several communities to pilot the new buses, such as Kamloops and Victoria.

In the end, they were looking for a community with a larger fleet (more than 25 buses) that was already looking to replace its aging fleet, that had both infrastructure and community support in place.

“With Nanaimo, you put a tick by all of those things, and that’s what made a very easy choice for us,” Achadinha said. “This is the latest in fleet innovation and we’re really proud to be doing it in Nanaimo.”

The RDN’s fuelling station, which was completed last year, was built with the possibility of hosting CNG in the future, and over the next eight months, will be outfitted to support two diesel and two CNG pumps. The approximate cost to put the new infrastructure in place will amount to approximately $1.5-2 million.

“Overall, this new fleet is an excellent fit for us in terms of our strategic priorities, absolutely an excellent fit and great value to all the residents in the regional district of Nanaimo,” said RDN board chairman Joe Stanhope.

Compressed natural gas is a cleaner burning fuel which puts out approximately 30 per cent fewer greenhouse gas emissions without the price volatility of other fuels such as diesel.

“It’s inexpensive; I would go so far as to say it’s cheap, so it’s a great idea to use it in our buses,” said Parksville-Qualicum MLA Ron Cantelon, during Friday’s announcement at the RDN Transit Centre.

In addition to their environmental advantages, CNG buses run quieter than diesel engines.

“You still have tire noise, you still have wind noise, but in general the bus should be quieter,” said Steven Wiebe, senior project engineer for B.C. Transit.

Weibe explained that the compressed gas is contained in 21 cylinders built into the roof of the bus. Contained at 3,600 psi, about four litres of compressed gas takes up the same amount of space as one litre of diesel.

“The only thing you’re going to see different is the roof is going to be a little bit higher because all your storage tanks are up on the roof,” he said.

B.C. Transit is currently in the process of awarding the contract to build the buses, and hopes to have that finalized by the end of the month.

To help offset the initial costs associated with the purchase of the new CNG buses, FortisBC will provide funding of up to $937,500. The money represents 75 per cent of the cost differential of CNG over its diesel comparators. In addition, both B.C. Transit and the RDN will kick in $6 million.

According to Dennis Trudeau, general manager of Transportation, the 25 buses will replace some of the 43 vehicles in its fleet.

“We’ll take out the old ones that are smoking a lot, or making a lot of noise, or their maintenance cost is too high – they would be our higher polluting buses – and put in these very clean, efficient, quiet CNG buses. It’s going to be great for the community,” he said.

The RDN has been striving for a better working relationship with B.C. Transit for several years, leading the charge on an independent review of the entity in 2012.

Stanhope said communication between the RDN and B.C. Transit has improved 100 per cent since that time.

On Mar. 3, the regional district launched the first 5,000 hours of a near 9,000- hour transit expansion.

For more information, please visit www.rdn.bc.ca.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A rendering of Front Street transportation improvements set to get underway as soon as next week. (McElhanney image/City of Nanaimo)
Work set to start on Front Street cycle track in downtown Nanaimo

Road work and street reconfiguration project scheduled to start in March, finish in May

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools’ business committee is recommending busing for the Rutherford and Frank J. Ney elementary school area be retained. (News Bulletin file)
Nanaimo school trustees vote against cutting Rutherford-Frank J. Ney bus route

Staff report points to yearly transportation budget deficits

Nanaimo RCMP seek help in locating Shannon Lettington, 35. (Submitted photo)
Nanaimo RCMP searching for missing 35-year-old woman

Shannon Lettington, of Nanaimo, has not contacted her family since October

This month Christy Blom’s Springtime show is on display at Art 10 Gallery. (Photo submitted)
Nanaimo painter welcomes spring with watercolour exhibition

Christy Blom presents month-long ‘Springtime’ show at Art 10 Gallery

Lucas Philp, senior fish culturist at Vancouver Island Trout Hatchery, packs up pipes and hoses used to transfer trout from the transport truck into lakes, shortly after releasing about 500 rainbow trout into Colliery Dam No. 3 lake Wednesday. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
There are fresh fish to catch in Nanaimo’s lakes

Vancouver Island Trout Hatchery released thousands of catchable-size rainbow trout this week

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Beef to the plow driver who completely soaked me in dirty slush at the bus stop at Fifth and Hillcrest. I could tell you were driving quite fast so I tried to back up as far as the snowbank would allow but you did not slow down. I am 68 and had to pick up a prescription and had no choice but to continue on soaking wet.
Beefs & Bouquets, March 3

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail editor@nanaimobulletin.com

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Canada’s hockey dad had battled Parkinson’s disease and other health issues

Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 4, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals, NDP sing in harmony on local election reforms

Bill regulates paid canvassers, allows people in condo buildings

The intersection of Melrose Street and Third Avenue. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Suspect in custody after two pedestrians struck in Port Alberni hit and run

RCMP asking for video footage, credit witnesses for quick arrest

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

Comox Valley RCMP had access to 20 Street blocked off between Cousins and Choquette avenues as they conducted a raid of a house on the block. Photo by Terry Farrell
Comox Valley RCMP raid Courtenay problem house, several arrests made

Comox Valley RCMP conducted a raid of a problem house on 20th… Continue reading

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

Most Read