GREEN BUSSES - Mayor Tara Veer and Red Deer North MLA Kim Schreiner were on hand for for the unveiling the new Red Deer Transit compressed natural gas (CNG) bus fleet. Todd Colin Vaughan/Red Deer Express

City unveils a clean energy bus fleet

The new CNG buses use 30% less fuel compared to diesel buses and fuel costs are 40% lower, officials say

The City of Red Deer unveiled its new fleet of compressed natural gas (CNG) transit buses at a press conference at the Red Deer Transit building in the Civic Yards on Tuesday morning.

The buses, which are a cleaner and more fuel efficient upgrade from the current diesel fuel buses, were jointly funded by all three levels of government.

The City used the Federal Gas Tax allocation to cover $5 million and $10.1 million came from the provincial GreenTRIP fund.

The City contributed the remaining 600,000 of the cost from fuel and capital reserves – totalling a cost of $15.7 million. The sum includes the cost of building a new CNG fueling station and a bus storage facility and maintenance garage.

According to a press release, the new CNG buses use 30% less fuel then diesel buses and fuel costs are 40% lower.

The project is part of the City’s Environmental Master Plan and is a, “Significant step forward in reducing our carbon footprint,” according to Mayor Tara Veer.

She also noted in her speech that the new line of buses will also allow the City to maintain taxation rates and keep transit fares low for users.

“The CNG buses allow us to continue to provide affordable transit; a necessary amenity to so may people in our community,” she said.

“They allow us to modernize our fleet, while reducing the impact on our environment and the City’s operational budget. The new compressed natural gas buses are not only more fuel efficient then diesel fuel buses, they will also be more economical for our transit staff to maintain and will reduce noise pollution.”

The new buses, which will continue to phase out aging diesel models, are part of an ongoing process to ensure reliable transit in Red Deer, according to Veer.

“Red Deer Transit provides access to affordable transportation to more than 100,000 Red Deerians and neighboring communities,” she said.

“The need for transit will only increase as Red Deer and Central Alberta continue to grow. We look forward to the transformation we will see in Red Deer Transit as we continue to convert our fleet to CNG busses and take on new technologies to enhance the experience of every person who uses our transit system.”

Veer also took the time to thank City staff and industry professionals who helped bring in the CNG fleet; as well as the the provincial and federal governments who helped to make the project possible.

“It was just this time last year that we celebrated 50 years of Red Deer transit, so today marks the start of the next 50 years of progress,” Veer said.

Red Deer North MLA Kim Schreiner was on hand for the unveiling and was pleased to see a clean energy initiative in Red Deer.

“It is a delight to see these brand new buses that will run on clean burning compressed natural gas,” she said. “I have always been proud of Red Deer and today I am very proud of Red Deer being a leader in giving citizens viable transportation options.

“These brand new buses will allow for a greater frequency of service at peak travel times, making it easier for weekday commuters to make a sustainable choice and leave their cars at home.”

Schreiner noted in her speech that this projects falls in the line with the Government of Alberta’s environmental strategy.

“The benefits of this investment align with the goals of our Climate Leadership Plan to reduce carbon emissions,” she said.

“There is more of this type of investment to come. As part of our four-year capital plan, the Government of Alberta is investing nearly $2 billion in grant funding initiatives through municipalities to help connect communities, enhance access to markets and services and make life better for all Albertans.”