Here’s the full report. With thanks to The Standard newspaper.
Say goodbye to smelly, dirty, noisy buses.
By Christmas, St. Catharines' taxpayers will be the proud owners of seven new clean and green transit buses.
If the diesel and electric hybrids are as good as they're advertised to be, the city will probably never buy another regular diesel bus, said transit general manager Dave Sherlock.
That's because the new buses, to be paid for mostly by federal and provincial transfer payments, are reported to be cleaner, quieter, more energy efficient and easier to maintain, Sherlock said.
"We do want to evaluate them ourselves, but we are very confident with the diesel hybrid product," he said after the manufacturer, New Flyer, allowed city transit staff to test drive one here earlier this year.
The same style of hybrid bus has been in use in other North American cities for the past five years, "and the operating and maintenance results have been very positive," he said.
The hybrids are expensive to buy - $648,000 each, compared to $399,000 for a conventional diesel bus - but each bus will save $9,000 a year on fuel costs, Sherlock said.
They are cleaner, with lower emission levels, and they are quieter. They are also easier to repair, which should result in lower maintenance costs.
The city's 11 transit mechanics will take a four-day training course to learn how to maintain and repair the electric portion of the motors, Sherlock said.
"I think it's a very positive step forward in terms of transit technology, and the comfort and environmental benefits," he said.
"It's a very good package, for everybody."
And the city only had to pay $335,000 for all of the buses. The remaining funds are coming from taxpayers via federal and provincial coffers.
The city had already ordered five of the buses in February, but St. Catharines councillors agreed this week to boost the order up to seven, after learning from city treasurer Colin Briggs that the March provincial budget allocated an extra $2.2 million to the city for transit infrastructure.
The transit commission wanted to act quickly to spend the money because the demand for hybrid buses is increasing rapidly, and prices and delivery times are both expected to increase, Briggs wrote in a report.
Sherlock said the new buses will be accessible, allowing the transit commission to make more routes accessible.
Except for the telltale battery bump on the top, they will look like regular buses, Sherlock said. But because the acceleration and deceleration will be accomplished by a combination of battery and diesel power, they'll be quieter.
They also won't stink.
"They run so much cleaner, you probably won't smell anything."