The first day I was in Quebec City I saw the Ecolobus. It wasn't until the second last day of the conference that I was able to actually track one down for a ride!
Quebec City transit has recently started running these little guys around the downtown core. How recently? - the one I was in only had 648km on it! According to the city transit website ( french / english translation) they can run approximately 100km per charge so mine had only been in service for about a week.
The driver figured they cost the city about $400 000 by the time they were shipped to Canada and had heaters installed. I spoke to a Quebec City council member on Sunday and he confirmed that the price was about that. They have tested them in the winter and didn't see any problems.
After a little sleuthing on the web I found the Italian manufacturer's website . They suggest that the bus can handle up to 31 passengers at a time (some standing and some sitting).
During a conference break I had a chance to sit down with Jeremy and Ted from Medicine Hat. They were pretty interested in the ecolobus too so maybe there's an opportunity for GP and Med Hat (and others in the province) to get together and make a bulk purchase. I would like to see our transit department contact the other mid-sized cities in Alberta and see if we can get something going.
The smaller size even makes good sense for growing communities like GP. One of the challenges we face with Transit is that we have new neighbourhoods where the road network isn't fully built, making it tough to find a good route for a big bus. We also have areas where there isn't quite the density to demand a large bus, yet. Smaller buses (no matter what they run on) might be the answer.
So, what do you think; should GP invest in some, money saving, clean running buses?