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Selinger calls electric transit bus the future of public transport

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A prototype of a new electric transit bus was unveiled in Manitoba today, and officials hope the vehicle will soon be sold throughout North America.

The new bus rolled quietly to a ceremony on the south grounds of the Manitoba Legislative Building this morning, carrying Premier Greg Selinger, Takaya Watanabe, a Mitsubishi executive, and representatives from Winnipeg-based New Flyer, Manitoba Hydro and Red River College.

Selinger called the all-electric, battery-powered bus, developed in Manitoba, the future of public transport.

"Since we announced the development of the electric bus last year, it has been the intention of the five partners involved in the project to have a prototype up and running for testing within one year," the premier said.

"We have reached that goal and now we continue to aggressively push the development of a made-in-Manitoba solution for providing mass transit vehicles powered by clean energy."

Chris Stoddart, vice president of engineering with New Flyer, expects the bus will be tested under Winnipeg conditions beginning next year.

The company has yet to sign any deals to sell the bus to Winnipeg Transit or any other agency, but expects that a number of transit authorities throughout North America to give them a try once over the next couple of years.

New Flyer, already North America’s largest transit bus maker, stands to be one of the earliest – if not the earliest -- commercial manufacturers to sell an electric transit bus on the continent.

The test bus shown today is a 40-foot Xcelsior from New Flyer. The company describes it as its most advanced bus platform. It is equipped with electric drive and was redesigned to carry advanced lithium-ion batteries produced by Mitsubishi.

Red River College supported initiative through the work being done at its Electric Vehicle Technology and Education Centre, including developing the charging infrastructure analyzing performance data.

Hydro officials said the initiative will expand the capabilities of rapid charging systems.

The prototype bus cost $3 million to build. The costs were split evenly between the province, Manitoba Hydro and Mitsubishi.

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