Evidence of meeting #41 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

  • Jean-Pierre Baracat  Vice-President, Business Development, Nova Bus, a Division of Volvo Group Canada, Inc.
  • René Allen  Vice-President , Product Management and Strategy, Business Development, Nova Bus, a Division of Volvo Group Canada, Inc.
  • Chris Stoddart  Vice-President of Engineering, New Flyer Industries Inc.

June 5th, 2012 / 9:45 a.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin Trois-Rivières, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I will probably share my time with Mr. Sullivan.

Thank you to the witnesses for being with us. We have been receiving guests for a number of weeks as we look into the technologies of the future. The thing that most impressed me this morning was said by Mr. Allen. In fact, bus rapid transit is something we can already use, but we probably don't do it enough. I was stunned to learn how much greenhouse gases can be reduced with the measures you propose.

I come from a mid-sized city, Trois-Rivières, which has about 135,000 residents. It is big enough to have public transit, but it doesn't have the population density to have truly efficient public transit.

In your opinion, should our contribution to decreasing greenhouse gases be from bus rapid transit technologies, or the purchase or the renewal of the fleet with hybrid buses?

9:45 a.m.

Vice-President , Product Management and Strategy, Business Development, Nova Bus, a Division of Volvo Group Canada, Inc.

René Allen

I am familiar with Trois-Rivières, the people who lead it and the bus fleet. In the case of Trois-Rivières, I don't think bus rapid transit would be a good solution, because the city doesn't have the population density. I think work should focus more on vehicles and emissions as such.

Furthermore, some of the characteristics of bus rapid transit could be used to improve the average speed of buses, for example, the preemption of traffic lights, lights that change when the bus needs to go through, systems for people to get on and off the bus quickly, and payment outside the bus rather than lining up to get on.

Consequently, bus rapid transit is part of the solution. All of these advantages allow for a decrease in consumption and emissions.

9:45 a.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin Trois-Rivières, QC

Thank you.

My second question is for all of our guests.

We talked a few times about the comparison between Beta, VHS and Blu-ray formats. Of the charging technologies currently on the market, is there one that is more advanced?

With other contests in history, we already knew which would win. Even if we preferred the Beta format, we already knew that the VHS format would win out. Is there really a technology that, to date, stands out from the others?

9:45 a.m.

Vice-President , Product Management and Strategy, Business Development, Nova Bus, a Division of Volvo Group Canada, Inc.

René Allen

No, not currently. Now, it's about the first ones that were put into service. Since they are the first ones, everyone looks at them because they are available. No, we aren't seeing any getting ahead of the others. There are different very good ideas. They have to be implemented to see how they really work.

9:45 a.m.

Vice-President of Engineering, New Flyer Industries Inc.

Chris Stoddart

I have very similar comments, at least on the electric stuff. We're new enough into it ourselves that essentially we did a bit of a diligence on our suppliers, and we've gone with one for now. I think we have to experience some others just to see who's ahead.

9:45 a.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin Trois-Rivières, QC

Thank you.

Mr. Sullivan.

9:45 a.m.

NDP

Mike Sullivan York South—Weston, ON

Very quickly, the bus rapid transit systems seem to lend themselves to trolley operations, but why aren't they? Why are electric buses not the norm on a stand-alone bus rapid transit system, and where are supercapacitors in that mix?

9:45 a.m.

Vice-President of Engineering, New Flyer Industries Inc.

Chris Stoddart

When I hear the term “trolley”, I'm always thinking overhead—

9:50 a.m.

NDP

Mike Sullivan York South—Weston, ON

Overhead wires.

9:50 a.m.

Vice-President of Engineering, New Flyer Industries Inc.

Chris Stoddart

—and those are infrastructure requirements. People won't put overhead wires in for something new going forward.

But if your question was more on BRT and why battery-electrics wouldn't be more prominent, and about the technology between capacitors and batteries—

9:50 a.m.

NDP

Mike Sullivan York South—Weston, ON

Yes, there are two separate questions there. One is on supercaps and batteries. The other is why aren't we.... You know, if we have a right of way that we're building for a bus rapid transit system, the simplest solution would seem to be overhead wires. Those technologies exist. The buses exist. The propulsion systems exist. Yet, for some reason we're choosing diesels.

What's the holdup?

9:50 a.m.

Vice-President, Business Development, Nova Bus, a Division of Volvo Group Canada, Inc.

Jean-Pierre Baracat

Actually, it's the cost of the infrastructure. But you're right. If you compare that, for instance, to rail, putting those wires in would not be that prohibitive.

It could be one solution, for instance, to have electric vehicles on a dedicated lane. We're seeing more and more that even if the trolley solution would be one solution, then you would have to have a bit of autonomy so you don't have the same constraints you have with a rail vehicle that really has to stay on those tracks, otherwise everything is stopped.

It's probably a mix of trolley with some off-grid capacity. That's possibly one solution, from our perspective.

9:50 a.m.

Vice-President of Engineering, New Flyer Industries Inc.

Chris Stoddart

I don't think anyone would really consider putting in overhead wires. I guess when you date back to trolleys, whenever they were started—in the 1930s—it was because battery technology was not where it is today.

I think now, with the advancements that have been made, there's really no reason to have that continuous wire there. I don't think I would ever see that being viable.

9:50 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Merv Tweed

Thank you.

I have to go to—

9:50 a.m.

Vice-President of Engineering, New Flyer Industries Inc.

Chris Stoddart

With regard to supercaps, again, the battery technology is advancing on how quickly it can take a charge. The supercaps will take doses faster, so we do build hybrid buses with the ultra-caps.

I think the battery technology will catch up enough that you'll be able to fit in a rapid charge within the window you need to be able to do that—and recover all of your energy from regenerative breaking with batteries—at some point in the very near future.