Manitoba’s new electric bus and charging system – revolutionizing clean energy public transportation systems

The future of Manitoba’s all-electric, zero emissions public transit system is on track.

After a year of shuttling Manitoba Hydro employees from their Taylor Avenue office building to the new downtown location, the all-electric bus and its corresponding rapid battery charging station has passed the real world test of operating in Winnipeg’s winter conditions.

“We are pleased with the performance of the electric bus and charging station over the course of this harsh, especially cold, winter,” said Ray Hoemsen, Director of Applied Research and Commercialization at Red River College. “It has shown that an innovative and environmentally friendly electric transit bus can operate in climate that can be as trying as ours.”

The prototype electric bus was developed and tested through a partnership between the Manitoba government, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), New Flyer Industries, Manitoba Hydro and Red River College.

“This partnership and the resultant prototype Zero Emissions Transit Bus proves how integral college-based applied research can be for companies, industry partners, the environment and the public at large,” said Hoemsen.

The Province of Manitoba, MHI and Manitoba Hydro each contributed $1 million toward developing the prototype electric bus.

In partnership with the City of Winnipeg, four more electric buses are being produced that will be added to the Winnipeg Transit fleet and used on regular transit routes. The prototype bus will remain on loan to Winnipeg Transit until all four new electric buses have completed the testing phase..

“The return of electrically-powered public transportation to the streets of Winnipeg is an exciting development for Manitobans and Manitoba Hydro,” said Manitoba Hydro president and CEO Scott Thomson.

“During this initiative we were part of a team that developed a high capacity charging system which is the first of its size in Canada. At Manitoba Hydro, we have to ensure that our electrical distribution system will be able to economically and safely handle the impacts of more electrical vehicles. This new bus is helping us assess that impact,” Thomson continued.

Red River College’s research staff, students and instructors worked on this project through the College’s Electric Vehicle Technology & Education Centre. Specifically, they helped develop the electric charging system, assemble and monitor the electric bus battery for the original prototypes, modify and integrate the battery packs for the two new prototypes now being developed, and assisted in the demonstration phase of this project.

The charging system is activated when the bus drives up and a bar on top of the bus automatically lifts to connect to the charger. The speed and efficiency of this charging system, which can replenish the energy used during one hour of operation in under four minutes, will benefit transit schedules and rider convenience.

“Red River College has a history of innovating, promoting and performing applied research in the sustainable transportation sector,” said Stephanie Forsyth, president & CEO of Red River College. “We are a leader in applied research in this country and we are proud that we could offer our deep technical expertise to this project.”

With the realization of a greener public transportation future now in view for Winnipeg, it would appear that these electric powered wheels are only gaining momentum.

“The City of Winnipeg is proud to partner with the Province of Manitoba, Manitoba Hydro, New Flyer, and Red River College on this progressive and innovative project,” said Mayor Sam Katz.

“City Council is committed to supporting opportunities that provide economic growth in our community, and that showcase the leadership found in our City. We’re eager to share Winnipeg Transit’s expertise with our project partners during the testing phase of this project and look forward to further testing four state-of-the-art electric buses later this year.”