Winnipeg Sun 19 April 2018

An electric bus charges at the James Armstrong Richardson Airport bus charging station. Winnipeg Sun files The city’s transit union is lobbying the province to offer a loan for the purchase of 20 new electric buses in Winnipeg.

The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1505 is calling on the province to offer a $7-million, interest-free, “pay as you save” loan to the city to pay the price premium for electric buses. ATU estimates that initial higher cost over diesel vehicles would be paid back through energy savings within six years.

Electric buses currently cost about $850,000 each, while diesel buses each cost about $500,000, the ATU says. The union also plans to present its funding idea to the city in the near future.

NDP environment critic Rob Altemeyer suggested carbon tax revenues or federal green funds earmarked for the province could fund the initial loan, as well as any charging stations required by Winnipeg Transit to run the buses.

The Winnipeg Sun will request comment from the province on the idea.