KINGSTON, ONT. -- Kingston Transit has some new additions to its fleet, two fully electric buses.

The battery-powered buses are zero emission and can travel on roads for several hours before needing a charge, says Kingston Transit Services Director Jeremy DaCosta.

“It does depend on the route that they’re operating on, and some other factors, like the number of passengers or whether the heating and cooling systems are running because that will depend on how much energy is consumed,” he explains.

The project's total price tag comes in at $2.7 million. A single fully electric bus comes at a price tag of $1.2 million, while a diesel engine bus costs about half that, explains DaCosta. The city says they expect to see savings in the long term.

“The experience of other transits right away is that operational costs do reduce, do go down,” he explains. “What isn’t entirely known, though, is how that will play out over the entire life of the vehicle.”

Funding came from all three levels of government. On Thursday, Kingston Mayor Bryan Paterson, Ontario Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney and Kingston and the Islands MP Mark Gerretsen were on hand to launch the new buses.

“It’s an important step in the right direction, the greening of Kingston’s fleet,” says Minister Mulroney.

“It is a real pleasure for me to be here to be here, to see this, to see these buses have arrived,” says Gerretsen. “I’m looking forward to seeing more of these buses arrive. I’m looking forward to the day that [Kingston Transit] can say that the entire fleet is electrified.”

It’s part of a trend by many municipalities across the country to include battery powered public transit. Cities like Ottawa have announced plans to switch over their entire fleet in the coming years.

Paterson says these two vehicles are a starting point.

“We’re going to test them out. We’re going to try them out, we’re going to try to make sure that they work great. That will then build the momentum that we can start to make investments in future buses,” explains Paterson.

“That’s critical for us as a city to be able to lower our carbon emissions, to meet our climate goals, so this is the first two of many.”