Electric School Bus Pilot Program

The Electric School Bus Pilot Program (ESB Pilot) provides funding to school bus operators to determine if ESBs can operate reliably and cost effectively in Ontario in a range of weather conditions. The ESB Pilot also aims to determine lifecycle costs as well as any potential constraints for school bus operators, as well as the potential of ESBs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality.

School bus operators are invited to apply for funding for an ESB and the necessary charging infrastructure for its operation. Applications are competitive, and funding is limited to one ESB per applicant. As a condition of funding, successful applicants will be required to work with a third-party researcher hired by the Ministry of Transportation to collect and analyze their ESB performance data.

ESB Pilot Key Dates

The deadline to apply is October 13, 2017. Applicants will be notified of the Ministry’s decision in November 2017.

ESB Pilot Detailed Information

The ESB Pilot is a competitive, application-based program that provides funding to eligible school bus operators to add a new 100% battery electric school bus to their fleet as well as charging infrastructure (referred to as Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment or EVSE) and coverage of installation costs. The Ministry of Transportation (MTO) will provide funding to implement the ESB Pilot in a minimum of five diverse locations across Ontario, on a variety of route types and with operators of different sizes.

The ESB Pilot also includes a research component in which an independent researcher will be hired by the Ministry to collect data from pilot participants. The researcher will perform analysis of this data in support of the ESB Pilot’s objectives, and publish results at the conclusion of the Pilot.

For more information, please refer to the Electric School Bus Pilot Program Guide.

For ESB Pilot Applicants

Important program clarification:

A key criterion in the evaluation of applications is for the proposed electric school bus to begin active service no later than April 16, 2018. Applications with later active service dates will only be considered if there are insufficient acceptable applications able to begin service by the April date.

Please refer to the ESB Program Guide for details on program eligibility. You must complete and submit the Electric School Bus Pilot Program Application Form on the Grants Ontario website, and include all necessary supporting documentation to be considered for funding.

On the Grants Ontario website, the first step for new and returning applicants is to register/update their registration with the Transfer Payment Common Registration (TPCR) system. The TPCR is a one window, self-serve registration system for submitting and updating organization profile information. Registering with TPCR is required in order to receive grant funding.

Second, applicants must register with the Grants Ontario system in order to submit an application. MTO recommends that applicants register with the Grants Ontario system at least two weeks prior to the application deadline. It may take up to five business days for the Grants Ontario system to complete the registration and provide access to the system.

Webinar Presentation

Please refer to the ESB Webinar Presentation for further details on the program as discussed during the August 28, 2017 webinar.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Where are ESBs currently operating in Ontario or Canada?

    The Ministry is aware of only one ESB currently in operation in Ontario. In Quebec, approximately 50 Type C ESBs are in service. Alberta has one Type C ESB in service.

  2. What is the difference between an ESB and a regular diesel bus?

    A fully electric school bus is powered by an electric powertrain with a battery, and uses an external electricity source to recharge the battery. Hybrid ESBs are also available and can be powered by a combination of electric battery packs and another power source such as propane, compressed natural gas, gasoline or diesel. ESB Pilot funding is available for fully electric school buses only.

  3. What is it like to drive an ESB compared to a diesel bus?

    Current users of ESBs report that they are quieter than diesel buses. ESBs are designed to handle like a diesel bus but drivers report that they do perform differently and that it takes some time to get used to reading gauges and understanding the combination of time and kilometres reported for battery charge.

  4. How does cold weather affect an ESB's range?

    Some ESBs use an auxiliary fuel fire heater to heat the bus cabin. Systems can be powered by diesel, propane or gasoline and as such, do not use any battery power and have no impact on the range of the ESB.

  5. Will this pilot eventually become a permanent program in Ontario?

    The results of this pilot will help determine future program options to support electric school buses, and also inform school bus operators on the potential benefits that ESBs can offer when considering new additions to their fleet.

For more information on the ESB Pilot, please contact the Ministry:

Toll-free: 1-888-310-1028
Email: ESBprogram@ontario.ca

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