OTTAWA -- Four new electric buses will begin traveling along city streets in the fall of 2021, according to the city's transit boss.

A memo from Transportation Services General Manager John Manconi, sent Monday, says the City has made a deal with New Flyer Industries to acquire electric buses and charging equipment.

Manconi said the procurement allowed for the purchasing of two buses and charging infrastructure but, thanks to additional funding from the federal government, a total of four buses can be bought.

"In addition to the $6.0 million in funding that the Transit Commission and Council have made available for this project, staff have identified another $3.3 million that will be made available by refinancing other projects that can be funded from the federal Public Transit Infrastructure Fund," Manconi said. "The full amount, $9.3 million, will now allow the City to purchase four long-range 40-foot battery electric buses, along with the necessary supporting infrastructure."

The buses are scheduled to be delivered in late summer of 2021 with the goal of having them on the roads by fall. 

Manconi said that the buses would run mainly on routes in the central and eastern parts of the city.

"Staff will assign the buses to a range of different route types in order to gain experience under different conditions and to allow for robust testing and data collection," he said.

Staff will also prepare a report for the Transit Commission to review near the end of 2021 on the feasibility of moving OC Transpo's bus fleet to zero-emission buses.

OC Transpo has seen a severe reduction in ridership in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the transit budget for 2021 does not include severe service cuts. Manconi has said his goal is to keep the system running at normal capacity as much as possible, despite low ridership. 

Manconi said, in the absence of federal or provincial funding to support the transit system, OC Transpo can save money by delaying certain projects to 2022 and beyond.