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Halifax Transit looking into Alternative Fuel for Greener Buses

Halifax Transit wants to make its fleet more environmentally friendly over the next 30 years by finding alternatives to pollution-spewing diesel buses.

The municipality posted a request for proposals (RFP) on the provincial tender website on Tuesday seeking a consultant to complete a sustainable fuel study, exploring electric and natural-gas options for buses.

Acknowledging its location as a coastal region particularly susceptible to climate change, Halifax set a target in 2011 to reduce its annual greenhouse-gas emissions by 30 per cent between 2012 and 2020.

Spokesperson Nick Ritcey said in an email that based on 2008 levels of emissions, that target would equate to a reduction of almost 27,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas — equivalent to taking 4,900 cars off the road. The municipality was about 24 per cent of the way toward that goal as of the 2015-16 fiscal year, the most recent data available, Ritcey said.

But Halifax Transit, which produces about 30,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases annually with its 338 diesel buses, isn’t included in that plan, which only encompasses energy consumption from buildings, fleet vehicles and outdoor lighting.

“Our forthcoming climate strategy (which will look at 2020 forward) will address those emissions and set a citywide reduction target,” Ritcey said.

In the meantime, Halifax Transit is looking to complete this sustainable fuel study by the end of next March.

The study will analyze the costs, environmental impacts and ranges of “all available bus technologies,” including “compressed natural gas, renewable natural gas, diesel gas, battery-electric, liquified natural gas, hydrogen-fuel cell, hybrid-electric diesel, converted diesel to electric and converted hybrid to electric.”

Halifax Transit has had two hybrid buses on the roads since 2009. There was also an “exploratory study” on buses propelled by compressed natural gas completed in 2013, but nothing was implemented.

Last year, Halifax Transit completed a feasibility study on battery-powered electric buses, and a pilot project is expected, possibly in 2019.

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