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House of Commons looking into electric buses to shuttle MPs around parliamentary precinct

The House of Commons is looking into the possibility of shuttling MPs around Parliament Hill in a more environmentally friendly way.

A fleet of 16-person passenger buses transports MPs and staff from their offices to the House of Commons

A row of white shuttle buses sit parked near Parliament Hill. The Peace Tower can be seen in the background.

The House of Commons is looking into the possibility of transporting MPs around Parliament Hill in a more environmentally friendly way.

MPs, senators and parliamentary staff have access to a fleet of white shuttle buses they can use to get around the parliamentary precinct in downtown Ottawa.

Now, the House is exploring the option of converting that fleet to battery-powered vehicles, according to a document posted last month on the federal government's procurement website.

The House of Commons Transportation and Fleet Management Services issued the request for information (RFI) notice asking manufacturers about electric options available to replace the 16-person passenger buses.

Mathieu Gravel, spokesperson for the House of Commons Speaker's office, said the RFI is part of a "fleet review/renewal strategy." He said the fleet has undergone previous reviews but this is the first one to examine electric vehicles as an option.

The RFI is not a formal call for bids but could inform a competitive process if the House decides to go ahead and purchase new buses.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May said the shuttle buses are "perfect for electrification."

"A lot of people have asked me over the years whether we needed those little shuttle buses, and actually we do," May told CBC News. "It's a very intense schedule and you're basically supposed to be two places at once a lot of the time.

"[The shuttles] are ideal for electric. They're short runs, they can recharge fast, they're small vehicles … I hope they'll put them in place soon."

The federal government unveiled last month its electric vehicle sales mandate regulations, which require that all passenger cars, SUVs, crossovers and light trucks sold in Canada be zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) by 2035.

Ottawa is attempting to lead the effort to switch to more environmentally friendly vehicles. In the 2022 budget, the government earmarked $2.2 million over five years for its "greening government fleets" initiative. The goal of the program is to make all government "light-duty" vehicles zero-emission by 2030.

Gravel said switching the shuttle fleet to electric would be "independent of but complementary to the government's greening strategy."

May said the government's policy should have an impact on the electric vehicle market as a whole.

"The Government of Canada switching to greener purchasing reverberates through the marketplace and is helpful to everyone," she said.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Darren Major

CBC Journalist

Darren Major is a senior writer for CBC's Parliamentary Bureau. He can be reached via email at darren.major@cbc.ca.

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