STL is poised to make its first major electric bus purchase

Transit agency expected to issue call for bids before end of 2017

Martin C. Barry

The Société de transport de Laval (STL) will be launching its first all-electric bus service in 2019-2020, says Mayor Marc Demers.

Demers made the statement at the Association du Transport Urbain du Québec (ATUQ)’s 14th annual general assembly which was held at the Palace congress centre in Laval on Oct. 18 and 19. The event drew representatives of public transit authorities and cities from all over the province – including some from Laval.

Laval mayor Marc Demers, STL board member Michel Reeves,, STL president David De Cotis
Laval mayor Marc Demers is greeted by STL board member Michel Reeves, STL president David De Cotis and city councillor Jocelyne Frédéric-Gauthier during the opening of the ATUQ’s annual meeting in Laval last week.

Demers was accompanied by Laval executive-committee vice-president David De Cotis who is president of the STL, city councillor Jocelyne Frédéric-Gauthier and STL board member Michel Reeves.

STL buying electric buses

“In the course of the project, we will be proceeding with the purchase of 10 electric buses,” said the mayor, adding that a call for tenders will be made before the end of this year and that the Société de transport de Montréal (STM) will be calling for bids to purchase 30 electric buses at the same time.

According to the mayor, the STL plans to purchase only electric buses beginning in 2023. He said that he and other officials at Laval city hall are hoping Quebec will create a new subsidy program to facilitate the acquisition of electric buses by the STL and other public transit authorities across the province.

Incentives needed, says Demers

“We also think that the government of Quebec should create financial incentives for transit authorities that would facilitate the transition to electrification,” he continued. He suggested that with a provincial election taking place next year, all the candidates should be invited to come forward and say where they stand on the issue.

“For us, mass transit is a way of meeting our challenges with traffic – but it’s a lot more than that. It’s also a way to safeguard the environment while combating pollution,” Demers added. “What we discovered as well is that it improves the quality of life of our residents in a number of ways.” Demers recounted how the city and the STL decided three years ago to offer bus service free of charge to all retired Laval residents.

Seniors ride STL for free

“This is the one thing for which we receive the most congratulations and thanks,” he said. “Why? Because it’s something that affects the quality of life. The same goes for access to leisure activities, to libraries, to cultural activities, for people who would otherwise not have access. Public transit is truly something than can help leverage improvements to the quality of life for all of our residents. And I believe it is the way of the future.”

Demers also pointed out that Laval is well-positioned to play a central role in the growing electrification of public transit, as Quebec has long been one of the world’s most important producers of electricity, which is renewable energy.

Behind in electrification

Despite that, the mayor noted that Laval is behind in the electrification of its public transit system, compared to cities in Europe and other regions of the globe where the transition has been well underway for a considerable amount of time.

“We have as a duty to catch up on this lateness and to become an example for cities throughout the world, while showing innovation and imagination,” he added. Demers pointed out that the STL acquired two electric buses in 2013 in order to conduct studies and tests on them to determine their effectiveness while in service on the streets of Laval.