Evidence of meeting #39 for Transport, Infrastructure and Communities in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was bus.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Étienne Lyrette  Corporate Advisor, Governmental Affairs, External Relations and Strategic Planning, Société de transport de Montréal
  • Serge Carignan  Director, Engineering and Technical Services, Société de gestion et d'acquisition de véhicules de transport
  • François Chamberland  Director , Engineering Service, Operation, Société de transport de Montréal

9:30 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Merv Tweed

Merci.

Mr. Richards.

May 29th, 2012 / 9:30 a.m.

Conservative

Blake Richards Wild Rose, AB

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Good morning, my friends. Thank you for your presentations today.

I would like to first delve a little further into some of the regulatory barriers that you are suggesting exist to our being able to bring the fully electric model into Canada.

You mentioned earlier something about how there was a one-year rule in terms of the trial. I am still a little unclear on that. Can you tell me exactly what that barrier is? Can you explain that a little further to me?

9:35 a.m.

Director, Engineering and Technical Services, Société de gestion et d'acquisition de véhicules de transport

Serge Carignan

To import a vehicle and to be able to put the plates on it and use it on a daily basis, you need to meet the CMVSS standards. These vehicles do not comply with the CMVSS. These vehicles have different lengths, angles, whatnot, and different security measures that may be equivalent but not exactly the same. So they can't be used on a regular, daily basis. If you were to purchase more than one vehicle, even keeping them one year would not be possible.

But since we're asking for one, two or three buses, depending on the project, we're permitted to keep that bus for the duration of one year. That's a derogation that we're asking for and we have special permission for that.

9:35 a.m.

Conservative

Blake Richards Wild Rose, AB

But where's that through? Is it Transport Canada?

9:35 a.m.

Director, Engineering and Technical Services, Société de gestion et d'acquisition de véhicules de transport

Serge Carignan

It's Transport Canada that mandates this.

9:35 a.m.

Conservative

Blake Richards Wild Rose, AB

What specific section, rule, or regulation is that?

9:35 a.m.

Director, Engineering and Technical Services, Société de gestion et d'acquisition de véhicules de transport

Serge Carignan

It's the Canadian motor vehicle safety standards that have to apply. You can't buy a European car if it doesn't meet the safety standards. So European carmakers sell thousands of buses here so they can modify their vehicle to comply with the CMVSS. But if we're purchasing a hundred buses, a lot of engineering has to go into them to meet the standards. That's why it's not done in cars.

9:35 a.m.

Conservative

Blake Richards Wild Rose, AB

Okay.

So essentially, what you're suggesting or asking for is an exemption from that rule when looking at trials, or something to that effect?

9:35 a.m.

Director, Engineering and Technical Services, Société de gestion et d'acquisition de véhicules de transport

Serge Carignan

We'd like to purchase these vehicles. For one year it's not worth the million dollars that an electric vehicle might cost. They produce a lot of electric buses in Asia, Japan, and Korea, but to European standards, because the Europeans are most likely to purchase these vehicles in the near future. If we want to purchase them, they comply with European standards and not North American standards, and so we can't import them and use them for a reasonable number of years. These vehicles have to be kept for at least seven or eight years to make the original purchase cost worthwhile.

9:35 a.m.

Conservative

Blake Richards Wild Rose, AB

I'm always interesting in hearing ways that government can help to allow the adoption of new technologies and things.

Can you tell me any other hurdles or barriers that are put up by the government, or regulations that you feel need to be changed or tweaked in any way? Just tell me anything else that you can suggest that maybe we could do to help remove some of the barriers that exist for you.

9:35 a.m.

Director, Engineering and Technical Services, Société de gestion et d'acquisition de véhicules de transport

Serge Carignan

Certainly we lack funding right now to do these projects. There is no funding for public transit work. We've discussed the fact that financing is looked at on a provincial basis. Why is that? It is because there's no federal money to help us, so we have to analyze it on a provincial basis.

9:35 a.m.

Conservative

Blake Richards Wild Rose, AB

I have to interrupt you there. Certainly over the last few years, through the economic action plan, there's been all kinds of federal investment in transit in this country, despite the fact that it's not really a federal jurisdiction. So I would have to disagree with you on that.

But what I was asking you specifically is whether there are any regulatory barriers or hurdles—you know those types of things—that we can address to help you to be able to adopt these technologies. That's the question I was asking.

9:35 a.m.

Director, Engineering and Technical Services, Société de gestion et d'acquisition de véhicules de transport

Serge Carignan

The regulatory measures are our biggest hurdle right now. We'd like to attract foreign companies to invest in building buses here, or to help us by bringing the technology that they have abroad. If there could be any type of encouragement to do that, that would also help us.

9:40 a.m.

Conservative

Blake Richards Wild Rose, AB

Can you give me specific examples?

9:40 a.m.

Director, Engineering and Technical Services, Société de gestion et d'acquisition de véhicules de transport

Serge Carignan

Well, there were three Canadian bus manufacturers. There are now two. It's not a Toyota, it's not a big brand, so they don't have millions of dollars to invest in developing these technologies. They're forced to do little projects and try, as best they can, to get together an electric bus. But it's nothing like dealing with what we have abroad, where big companies are making them.