CUTA releases timely zero-emissions bus report
In a mandate letter provided to the federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities in mid-December last year, the government has made commitments to increase the number of zero-emissions buses (ZEBs) in the public transit industry. While manufacturers and component suppliers are already producing innovative zero-emission technologies, transit system members are at differing stages in their preparations for zero-emission fleet procurement.
To support Infrastructure Canada (INFC) in developing policy programs to meet their objectives, CUTA surveyed transit system members in January 2020 to gauge their readiness to transition to zero-emission fleets. The findings collected from this consultation were promptly analyzed by CUTA and disseminated in a report that was shared with INFC, Finance Canada and other federal government departments this month. The quick turnaround of this report reflected the urgency to provide the federal government with CUTA’s findings ahead of the 2020 federal budget in late March this year.
CUTA is developing policy and funding recommendations to share with INFC and other relevant departments to help the federal government achieve zero-emission fleet targets.
For more information, please contact Chad Jeudy-Hugo at 416-365-9800, ext. 614.
Investing in Canada Infrastructure Plan – Public Transit & Zero-Emission Fleets
Prime Minister (PM) Justin Trudeau unveiled his minority government’s policy priorities in the ministerial mandate letters that were published on December 13, 2019. Mandate letters outline the PM’s vision for each Minister’s role in his cabinet and list the key priorities that he would like them to deliver over the course of the government’s mandate.
The mandate letter provided to the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, calls on her to deliver the government’s “growth-generating investments in public transit” and invest in zero-emissions public transportation. The letter specifically calls on her to:
- Require that all provinces and territories identify and approve all their long-term infrastructure priorities within the next two years and according to the integrated bilateral agreements. Funds that are not designated for specific approved projects by the end of 2021 will be reinvested directly in communities through a top up of the federal Gas Tax Fund (GTF).
- To make the federal commitment to fund public transit permanent and rise with the cost of construction over time.
- Work with provinces and territories to introduce new funding to help school boards and municipalities purchase 5,000 zero-emission school and transit buses over the next five years.
- Ensure that new federal investments in public transit are used to support zero-emission buses and rail systems starting in 2023 and work with municipalities to address any exceptional circumstances.
CUTA has stressed to Infrastructure Canada (INFC) that any ICIP Public Transit Stream funding to be channeled through the GTF should remain dedicated to transit. There are few conditions placed on municipalities at present when the federal government flows funds via the GTF.
CUTA has also begun discussions with INFC on the policy program development of the permanent transit fund, which would in theory start after the ICIP program wraps up in 2027-28. The securing of dedicated and permanent capital funding via this new program is important, as is the potential to advocate that the federal government should consider funding operations through this program too.
Related to the investment and procurement of zero-emission vehicles, CUTA is developing policy and funding recommendations to share with INFC and other relevant departments to help the federal government achieve zero-emission fleet targets.
CUTA has raised awareness with the policy team at INFC that the 2023 federal funding restriction on ZEBs may disadvantage transit systems that are not ready to procure such buses at that time for either fleet renewal or expansion. The caveat that is included in the mandate letter that the federal government will work with municipalities to address exceptional circumstances is important in this regard. CUTA is signalling that its membership understands the importance of moving to low-emission fleets, and that many systems are taking steps to advance this, but that 2023 might be too early to limit procurements to ZEBs due to many factors.