In Winnipeg the Electric Past is the Future

Broadway looking east, 1914.
Archives of Manitoba, Wpg/Streets/Broadway 11

The city of Winnipeg was once a leader in sustainable transit then along came the automobile and the city is now known for the worst intersection in Canada (it’s so bad they ban pedestrians from using it). Winnipeg was home to one the largest electric trolley network and the city was built along the transit lines with large bueatgul streets. Today, the city is dominated by cars. The future of transit in the city will return to its former glory days slowly but surely. Winnipeg is looking to electrify their public transit network and they can serve as a model city for other Canadian communities that want to return to friendly transit.

And though it wasn’t a priority, Winnipeg was an early adopter of emissions-free transit. “You didn’t think of the environment or anything like that back then,” Agnew says. Today, of course, things have changed. Winnipeg is just one of many cities planning a cleaner, lower emissions transportation network.

In a twist of fate, local company New Flyer Industries — which manufactured Winnipeg’s first diesel buses under the name Western Flyer in 1967 — secured a contract in 2022 to produce up to 166 battery-electric and hydrogen fuel cell buses for the city over the next four years. With electric bus technology will come a new era of electric transit infrastructure, including charging stations, hydrogen production capacity and a re-configuration of the transit network.

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