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Posted on: June 29, 2021

New green transit centre & electric buses move Bow Valley towards zero emissions goal

Roam Launch News

Roam Public Transit, the Government of Alberta, the towns of Banff and Canmore and Improvement District 9 (Lake Louise) opened a new transit operations centre today in Banff to enhance service across the Bow Valley, and accelerate down the road towards the goal of zero emissions. 

Three new battery electric buses – the first based in Banff National Park – also rolled into service for popular destinations in Banff, including the Banff Gondola (the top destination in the Banff area), Bow Falls, the Banff Springs Hotel, and the Tunnel Mountain Campgrounds, as well as downtown Banff year-round.

“I am very proud of the creation of a robust transit system that started in Banff and is now serving the Bow Valley, and is very much the envy of many much larger communities,” said Banff Mayor Karen Sorensen. “This is the Town of Banff’s most advanced green building project to date, demonstrating our commitment to being a model environmental community that can inspire the world, while providing the most convenient and cost-effective way for residents and visitors to get around Banff and Banff National Park.”

The $8.5 million Roam Transit Operations & Training Centre houses administrative offices, a state-of-the-art driver training simulator, indoor and covered storage for 32 buses, an environmentally responsible wash area and charging stations for the electric buses. 

“We are so thankful to the Government of Alberta for providing the lion’s share of the funding to make this facility possible, and for getting these first three electric buses on the road in Banff,” said Sorensen.

The 27,000 square-foot facility has net zero carbon emissions, is fully powered by the largest solar array in Banff and Jasper National Parks, and is heated entirely by the new biomass energy district heating system that turns wood waste into heat energy for four buildings. The super-insulated building does not have a natural gas connection.

“Today is a major milestone for Roam Public Transit and for the Bow Valley,” said Brian Standish, chair of the Bow Valley Regional Transit Services Commission (BVRTSC). “We are making public transit better, our air cleaner, and our communities healthier. We are moving forward on our goals to preserve our world-class national park and mountain towns for years to come.”

The facility constructed by the Town of Banff was purpose-built for Roam Transit, whose buses are famously adorned with wildlife imagery. The new electric buses feature a wolf pack, the snowshoe hare and the pine marten. Roam Transit buses operating from this facility provide services on year-round and seasonal routes funded by the Towns of Banff and Canmore, Improvement District 9 and Parks Canada.

This facility and the first of many electric transit vehicles in the fleet were made possible with Provincial funding through the Green Transit Incentives Program (GreenTRIP). The Municipal Climate Change Action Centre, through the Alberta Municipal Solar Program made the solar power system possible.

The facility was built because outdoor storage became no longer adequate for the expanding Roam fleet, currently with 27 buses, including three hybrid electric buses and now its first three fully electric buses. 

“Indoor and covered storage will significantly prolong the life of the fleet, especially as Roam Transit moves to electric vehicles,” said Martin Bean, CAO of the Bow Valley Regional Transit Services Commission. “This facility will keep vehicles on the road longer. The electric buses will also require less maintenance, saving money and reducing down time.”

The facility was built by PCL Construction and the solar array installed by Kuby Energy. 

Media contact:
Jason Darrah, Communications, Town of Banff
Ph: 403-762-1207 Cell: 403-431-2307 jason.darrah@banff.ca
banff.ca


Background Information

Funding 

$8.5 million – total cost – Roam Transit Operations & Training Centre

  • $5.7 millionGovernment of Alberta (Green Transit Incentives Program - GreenTrip)  
    • $167,000 GreenTrip towards the driver training centre/simulator within building
    • $255,000 GreenTrip towards the solar array
    • $5.2 million towards construction of the transit facility
  • $114,900 towards the solar array from the Alberta Municipal Solar Program of the Municipal Climate Change Action Centre
  • $2.6 million – Town of Banff for capital investment in building construction
     recouped through lease to BVRTSC
  • $83,000BVRTSC towards the driver training centre/simulator (provided by Town of Canmore, Improvement District 9 and Town of Banff)
  • $12,800 – towards the solar array from Low Carbon Economy Fund, Government of Canada

A 30-year lease to BVRTSC recovers capital used in partial debt-financing for the construction of the facility.

$4.2 million for 3 Proterra electric buses

  • $2.8 million Government of Alberta (GreenTrip)
  • $1.4 million Town of Banff

Economic Benefit

  • Roam helps 4 million visitors to Canada’s first national park each year access all areas in town and almost all attractions throughout Banff National Park.
  • Transit is an essential part of tourism in Banff, which generates $3.1 billion in spending in the Province of Alberta. 
  • In 2019, Roam Transit saw its highest ridership at 1.5 million passengers, Roam Transit is an essential service for affordable labour mobility that connects residents with jobs in Lake Louise, Banff, and Canmore. Transit keeps Bow Valley communities working.
  • Roam is an integral part of moving people throughout the Bow Valley affordably without requiring the use of a private vehicle, significantly reducing congestion in popular areas.

Environmental Highlights

  • The Roam Transit Operations & Training Centre was designed from the ground up to be powered almost entirely by renewable energy with no onsite fossil fuel combustion.  
  • 100% of the building’s heating requirements are met by the Town’s new district heating system (located across Hawk Ave in the Town Operations Compound), which in turn is fueled primarily by biomass (wood chips) derived from waste wood diverted from landfill.
  • The building’s walls, foundation, windows, and vehicle doors are all super-insulated; the annual heating energy requirements are only 38% of National Energy Code requirements.  Heat retention is supported by a large heat recovery ventilation system. 
  • The building interior features low-flow fixtures, LED lighting, occupancy controls, energy and water metering systems, and all-gender restrooms.
  • A 302.6 kW solar array on the building’s roof has 680 panels – the largest solar array in Canada’s Rocky Mountain parks. 
  • The array is large enough to provide all of the building’s annual electricity needs plus enough electricity to meet approximately 50% of the charging requirements of Roam Transit’s three new electric buses.  
  • The high-tech bus cleaning system and landscape design includes an extensive stormwater retention and filtration system to prevent harmful.
  • The project is targeting LEED Silver and Zero Carbon Standard certifications from the Canadian Green Building Council.
  • The project helped Banff Town Council adopt a new Municipal Sustainable Building Policy (C7006) that was adopted by council in April 2021.  The new policy requires that all future Town buildings achieve the same environmental performance targets as this project.
  • The Government of Alberta, through the Municipal Climate Change Action Centre, offers the Alberta Municipal Solar Program which provides funding to install solar PV on municipal facilities or land to save on energy costs and reduce environmental impact. 

Roam Transit Operations Centre – Solar System installed by Kuby Energy

  • Town of Banff’s ninth solar array
  • 680 PV Panels = 302.6 kW – largest municipal solar array in Rockies national parks
  • Annual output ~ 330MWh / yr = 221 tonnes CO2e offset
  • Total Cost - $382,946
    • AMSP MCCAC rebate - $114,883.97
    • Green Trip Funding - $255,298
    • Low Carbon Economy Fund - $12,765
  • Expected to exceed the building’s electricity demand and offset approximately 50% of the EV bus charging demand.

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