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

10 a.m.

Director , Engineering Service, Operation, Société de transport de Montréal

François Chamberland

Yes, but with a little more power.

10 a.m.

NDP

Mike Sullivan York South—Weston, ON

Everybody who's got a little powered toothbrush has contact with the inductive battery charging that goes on.

10 a.m.

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

Serge Carignan

It has to be close. The proximity is essential for that type of technology.

10 a.m.

NDP

Mike Sullivan York South—Weston, ON

Right, and so snow might get in the way of that.

10 a.m.

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

Serge Carignan

Well, if you're an inch too high, you're not going to get the....

10 a.m.

NDP

Mike Sullivan York South—Weston, ON

In Toronto there are hybrid buses but my understanding is that their implementation has not been as successful in terms of fuel savings as they would have liked, because the batteries have not had the life that they would have liked.

Have you learned from their folly?

10 a.m.

Director , Engineering Service, Operation, Société de transport de Montréal

François Chamberland

With hybrid buses, you have to understand that for them to work, to save fuel, you have to use them wisely. You have to brake a lot, because the hybrid buses use electric braking to recharge the battery. If you go on a highway with a hybrid, it's worthless; and even on the highway, the hybrid will probably consume more fuel because you have the weight of the battery and you have this extra volume too.

In Montreal our commercial speed is 18 kilometres an hour, which is very slow, because we're always downtown in the traffic. So with the batteries that we have, to save the 30% of the fuel, as we've shown you, we have to use the buses at 18 kilometres an hour. So it's all downtown Montreal. We would not put these hybrid buses on the highways at first to go to either end of the island, because they would not save fuel. I think in Toronto they use the hybrids everywhere and I think they save less than 10% in doing so.

So it's very expensive. But in Montreal with the slow speed that we have, as we're always on the brakes, it will work perfectly. We've tested it with the federal program, the PDTU that we have, and we're quite sure that it's resulting in a 30% fuel saving.

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Mike Sullivan York South—Weston, ON

I listened with interest to your comment about the regulations that prevent you from bringing readily available European fleets into Canada. One of the things you commented on was that to open a window on a bus you have to be able to push it out, but in Europe you can break the glass. And yet, on a VIA train you can break the glass. It's the same Transport Canada making the regulations for trains and buses, and yet they accept it on a train but don't accept it on a bus. It boggles the mind—but I see that they're taking notes over there. So I think that's one of the kinds of things that this committee can make recommendations about.

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Merv Tweed

Thank you, Mr. Sullivan.

Monsieur Poilievre.

May 29th, 2012 / 10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Nepean—Carleton, ON

Before beginning, I have to correct you on one point. You did say there's just no federal money to help with these matters. I'm sorry, but 20 years ago you would have been right: there was no federal money then, because, as a rule, federal governments did not fund municipal infrastructure of this kind. Budgets were literally zero.

Today we not only have a permanent gas tax fund, which transfers a continuous and predictable flow of money to municipalities like Montreal, which is the second-largest recipient in the entire country, but there's also a capital fund called Building Canada, which provided a record number of dollars. In addition to that, we just concluded a stimulus program that lasted two years and stacked another multi-billion dollar commitment, of which Montreal was an enormous beneficiary. Even in your presentation, you pointed to the federal contribution to one of your buses.

So I am sorry. We absolutely have to correct the record when witnesses come here and say there's just no federal help and they're not getting any assistance from our level of government.

Do you want to accept that correction? Or do you dispute it?

10:05 a.m.

Corporate Advisor, Governmental Affairs, External Relations and Strategic Planning, Société de transport de Montréal

Étienne Lyrette

I just want to make it clear here. We totally recognize the effort that has been made, especially with the Building Canada fund, in which we know there is a tremendous amount of money. That's why, for the next generation, or what I would call the next program that will come in 2014, we want to make sure that public transit stays in the eligible category.

So we recognize that. We recognize as well the gas tax fund transfer, which is quite useful for our own municipality as well.

I think the point here was specifically about R and D, for a program like the program we have here. In English it's the urban transportation showcase program. That was a very, very small program, but very useful for testing new technology like hybrid or electric.

But I totally agree with you.

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Nepean—Carleton, ON

I also agree that the Hippocratic oath for doctors should apply to government policy, and that is to start by saying “do no harm”. Before we talk about what government should do to help, let's make sure government actions are not the problem in the first place.

You have identified some challenges with regulation on the importation of foreign vehicles and so on. Just to reiterate the request of my colleague, Mr. Richards, I'm interested if you could provide us with a very specific list, including the articles, the sections, and the wording, of what is problematic for your permanent importation of transportation technology that would help you be cleaner, more affordable, and better for the city.

Could you provide us with a very highly specific list of those things because then we can take those to a group of Transport Canada officials before this committee, ask them why those rules exist, and potentially recommend their amendment.? Would you be able to provide us with that list of problems and also proposed amendments?

10:10 a.m.

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

Serge Carignan

Sure. We could do that. We will do it.

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Nepean—Carleton, ON

Those are all my questions. Are there any others who want to take the rest of my time?

Mr. Richards.

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Blake Richards Wild Rose, AB

Thanks, Mr. Poilievre, for sharing a little bit of time with me.

You made a comment earlier in response to someone else's question regarding natural gas and its use in transit. Maybe I heard you incorrectly, and I want to make sure that I didn't, but you seemed to indicate that you had some evidence or a study from somewhere indicating that these vehicles produce four times the greenhouse gas emissions of regular, conventional gasoline powered buses or vehicles. Was I correct when I heard that?