Electric buses are the future on Regina's streets, according to the city's first Transit Master Plan (TMP).
The document, released Tuesday, recommends that the city starts switching to electric buses in 2024, with the goal to completely replace the traditional transit fleet by 2040.
Overall, the document describes 45 actions over the next 25 years to improve and increase busing options for people in Regina.
The last year of diesel buses would be 2039, with the goal to be fully electric in 2040, the city said in an email to CBC.
Currently there are no electric transit buses on Regina's streets, but according to the TMP the city would start with an initial order of seven electric vehicles for 2024, according to Kim Onrait, executive director of citizen services.
"We have optimized replacements to ensure we continue to use existing buses until the end of their useful life, which is consistent with other cities that have done this before," said Brad Bells, director of transit and fleet on Tuesday.
"The master plan suggests a large increase to service hours in the next five years. This will create a situation where Regina residents and visitors can rely on public transit as a primary means of transportation."
The plan to buy only electric buses from 2024 onwards is in line with Regina's overall vision to become a totally renewable city by 2050.
Encourage more people to use public transit
Overall, the plan has five different focus areas, Thomas Pacy, a transit planner with Dillon Consulting Ltd., said on Tuesday:
Transit routes and services.
Fares and trip planning.
In accordance with the city's Energy and Sustainability Framework, Regina aims to increase its transit mode share to 25 per cent by 2025 – meaning public transit would make up one quarter of all motorized trips in the city.
Currently, 5.1 per cent of Regina residents use public transit as their primary mode of transportation for commuting trips, the document says.
Attracting more riders by increasing transit service and hours is one of the goals in the TMP.
While the population of the city has grown over the last years, transit service hours have not increased, the document points out.
Now the goal is to expand service hours to 710,000 annual hours over the next 25 years, an increase of 160 per cent, according to the TMP.
Increasing frequency on all routes, expanding hours and routes on Sunday, holidays and weekends, and enhancing the use of on-demand transit for lower ridership areas are some of the means suggested in the plan to help make using the bus more attractive.
"Our first main thing was to engage the community and key stakeholders in February 2021," Pacy said.
"We then used that information we gathered and the engagement results to develop the plan throughout 2021, trying to resolve some of those issues that people had brought to our attention"
Children under 12 and under ride free
Another proposed action in the plan is to remove bus fares for children 12 and younger and to investigate the feasibility of making transit free for teenagers going to a Regina high school.
"We just wanted to start where we can," said Bells.
"Right now we're at under five years old, and our next movement would be to under 12 years old – basically servicing the elementary school students and under."
The transit plan is expected to cost an extra $19.6 million in operating money and the capital costs are forecasted to be $66.80 over the next five years.
Councillors will discuss the plan at the executive committee meeting on April 27 before it goes to city council on May 4.
Once administration receives the OK from city council, staff can start working this year on initiatives that have no budget requirements, Bells says.
Resources needed to achieve the plan will be determined through the budget process, the city said in a news release on Tuesday.