Volume 94, Issue 3

Friday, June 2, 2000


I'm running: DeCicco

SOGS left out in the cold
Privatization plans continue

Exploding tuition put on ice

London takes sixth in Canada

Top-notch prof search gets $9.6M

24 ways to know you're Canadian

London getting diesel powered buses

Arena shortage solved
City approves another rink

London getting diesel powered buses

By Chris Lackner
Gazette Staff

Despite disagreement over environmental safety, London's City Council has approved the spending of $4 million for 11 new diesel transit buses.

Due to a 20 per cent increase in ridership over the last three years, the London Transit Commission has made plans to add 72 buses to its fleet over the next five years, said Bernard Gulliver, director of plant and equipment for the LTC. It will take at least six months for the new buses to start operating, Gulliver said.

He explained the LTC will need $32 million from the City to pay for the expansion, including the $4 million approved by Council on Monday.

However, there was some debate among City councillors concerning the use of diesel buses, as opposed to those powered by natural gas, said Ward 1 councillor Sandy Levin. "New diesel technology is an improvement, but natural gas is still better for our environment," Levin said. "It releases fewer damaging fuel emissions."

"It would have been nice for the municipality to lead by example in regard to this environmental issue, but the majority of Council was in favour of going diesel," said Levin. "The financial aspect of this initiative became very important."

Ward 7 councillor Gordon Hume, said he dismissed most of the criticism against diesel transit. "We all came in concerned about environmental issues and we were surprised when the LTC did not recommend natural gas transit," he explained. "But the LTC made a comprehensive case for the use of diesel. The engines are better, the fuel has low sulfur content and the gas emissions are controlled. They're not spewing black smoke into the air anymore."

Gulliver said the natural gas buses the LTC purchased in 1993 have not performed up to their expectations. "The model has been a problem. The buses have required high maintenance and have a shorter life-span on the road." Gulliver added diesel powered buses are about $80,000 cheaper to buy and $13,000 cheaper to maintain, than those powered by natural gas.

"Public transit buses only contribute one per cent of the pollution created on roads," Gulliver explained. "Some councillors said that natural gas is cleaner and they're right, but the financial trade-off is well worth it."

Gulliver cited the LTC's bus-pass partnership with Fanshawe and Western as a main contributor to the increase in ridership.

The increased ridership means transit in London is alive and well, said Levin. "Despite my concerns over the choice in diesel, if the buses are full, less people are in their cars," he explained. "That is good news for London's environment."

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