On 9 November 2022, Peter Gallén delivered the following submission on behalf of Bus Riders of Saskatoon to City Council’s Standing Policy Committee on Transportation (SPCOT) in response to Saskatoon Transit’s report regarding Approaches to Address Saskatoon Transit’s Long-Term Fleet Renewal and Funding Strategy (which was a consequence of the City Auditor’s previous work).

Peter’s submission was a continuation of Robert Clipperton’s submission two days earlier to the same committee (see post below this one) regarding the City Auditor’s report into his Investigation of Service Disruptions in Saskatoon Transit.

Peter’s comments regarding the need to minimize the number of new diesel buses by purchasing Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEVs) instead seems to have been heard, since several Councillors took up the issue at the subsequent City Council meeting on November 21. In Peter’s words:

“Good afternoon. My name is Peter Gallén. I am here today on behalf of Bus Riders of Saskatoon.

On Monday, Robert Clipperton presented to you on our behalf about ‘raising the bar’ on the transit service. My presentation here is a continuation of that sentiment.

First of all, my intent here is to emphasize that Bus Riders sees Fleet Renewal as one of the integral and indispensable solutions to the service problems identified in the Auditor’s Report on Transit Service Disruptions.

Moreover, Bus Riders wants to emphasize that the 97 buses mentioned in the Fleet Renewal Report that are required daily on the road should be viewed as an absolute minimum. Actual, ongoing Fleet Renewal needs to be based on a larger number.

We commend Saskatoon Transit for putting forward a long-awaited purchasing plan to replenish the Transit Fleet. Also we cannot overstate our pleasure at seeing the conversion of the Fleet to electric buses begin at long last.

However, Bus Riders is disappointed that so many months have been allowed to pass before placing the order for the two previously approved battery-electric buses, or ZEVs for short. These buses are crucial in allowing Transit to gain both operational and maintenance experience with ZEVs in varying real-time conditions through the daily grind and over the long haul.

I want to state clearly that Bus Riders prefers Option 3 in the Report but with certain modifications. Let me highlight the specific changes that Bus Riders would like to see in Option 3 and express the hope that these will be considered carefully in your deliberations.

As for the immediate purchase of three (3) articulating and five (5) conventional 40-foot diesel buses, Bus Riders acknowledges the reasons for this purchase outlined in the report. Nevertheless, as Bus Riders has indicated to the City before, from a Climate Change perspective, it is just plain wrong. We can understand the proposal, however, given Saskatoon Transit’s current problems in getting sufficient numbers of any kind of buses on the road, but we regard it as a measure of last resort. Also, since Saskatoon Transit does not yet have much experience in operating and maintaining electric buses, we can see that it might indeed be prudent to acquire only a few ZEVs very early in the replenishing program.

However, we do strongly object to the proposed continued purchase of additional diesel buses within another section of the acquisition plan. It is incomprehensible that Option 3 proposes the purchase of THIRTY (30!) new articulating DIESEL(!) buses late into the 2020s and even into the 2030s.

Finally, Bus Riders is fully aware that the current electrical supply to the Civic Operations Centre (COC) can only charge 30 electric buses at a time using trickle-chargers only. It is important that the City undertake an immediate upgrade of the electrical supply to the COC. With many more trickle- and rapid-charging stations available at the COC, the purchase of these additional diesel buses can surely be avoided!

In closing, Bus Riders of Saskatoon asks you to approve and fund Option 3 for Fleet Renewal, and get more Power to the COC as soon as possible, so that the 30 articulated buses to be purchased between 2025 and 2031 can indeed be battery-electric ZEVs.

Thank you for your time and for the opportunity to present to you.”

[Extract from page 7 of Adminstration’s Option 3: “To balance the influx of new buses against the varying age of the existing fleet, the City would purchase three articulating buses (to replace the three articulating buses retired in summer 2022) and five conventional buses in 2023 using STHP funding, 15 conventional ZEVs in each of 2024 and 2025 with ZETF funding, an additional 25 conventional ZEVs in 2026 through 2031 using ICIP funding, and 30 diesel articulating buses in 2025 through 2031 using ICIP funding.”]