Decarbonizing public transit fleets with TransLink, BC Hydro and Vancouver Economic Commission


MéridaLabs at UBC awarded $1.5M from NSERC’s Alliance Missions Program to develop a “digital twin” together with TransLink, BC Hydro and Vancouver Economic Commission to help decarbonize public transit fleets. 

The NSERC grant to MéridaLabs at UBC will support a project to develop datasets and sophisticated models to inform emissions reduction strategies as new propulsion technologies are deployed in public transit fleets. Multidisciplinary teams will develop Digital Twins – virtual clones that provide real-time monitoring, predictive analysis, and optimization – for UBC’s Smart Hydrogen Energy District (a $24M research platform on the Vancouver campus) that are linked to integrated simulation platforms for transportation routes, processes, operations, and energy requirements.

The resulting scenarios will estimate potential GHG emission reductions via fuel switching and new propulsion approaches (e.g., batteries, fuel cells, hybrid powertrains, etc.) for public transit fleets. In parallel, the project will estimate costs under varying scenarios, and investigate equitable mechanisms to minimize impact on end-users through a socioeconomic analysis carried out on the Digital Twin. We anticipate that this study will yield software, models and scenarios to assess the most effective pathways to decarbonize bus fleets, anticipate future infrastructure needs, and enable decision-making based on approaches that ensure equity and affordability for communities and end-users.


“Partnerships have become indispensable to elucidate pressing global challenges. As civil infrastructures, transportation assets and digital technologies become smart and interconnected, these partnerships can enable new business and service models that capitalise on Canadian innovation.”

Prof. Walter Mérida, FCAE, PEng.
Associate Dean, Research and Industry Partnerships
Faculty of Applied Science, UBC

About MéridaLabs at UBC 

We design energy systems that simultaneously minimize environmental damage, promote geopolitical stability, and enable economic diversification.  

Our integrated approach focuses on policies, technologies and partnerships that enable an equitable society and a low-carbon economy. Our research is focused on hydrogen technologies, energy systems and solutions for cities and communities.  


“Moving to net-zero GHGs by 2050 is one of TransLink’s top priorities and greatest opportunities. We’re going to need leading thinking, simulations and sophisticated analysis to inform the best decision making for our fleet and the region.”

Ralf Nielsen
Director of Enterprise Sustainability

About TransLink 

Together with our partners, stakeholders, and operating companies, TransLink plans and manages the region’s transportation system. We’re dedicated to creating and sustaining a transportation system that meets the needs of customers, residents, businesses, and goods movers in a way that protects the environment and supports the economic and social objectives of the region. 

Officially recognized as the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority, most simply know us as TransLink. Created in 1999, we deliver our services through contractors, and our operating companies and subsidiaries such as Coast Mountain Bus Company, British Columbia Rapid Transit Company Ltd. (SkyTrain), Metro Vancouver Transit Police and West Coast Express Ltd. 


“We have a generational opportunity to Energize our province with clean, sustainable energy for transportation, buildings and industry. Utilizing these partnerships allows BC Hydro to leverage the UBC Living Lab, along with industry, guiding us to efficiently modernize the electric grid and prepare for a flexible, resilient and proactive future grid.”

D. Jim Papadoulis, P.Eng.
Manager, Future Grid & Modernization
Integrated Planning, BC Hydro

About BC Hydro 

BC Hydro is a provincial Crown corporation, owned by the government and people of British Columbia, Canada. We generate and deliver electricity to 95% of the population of B.C. and serve over five million people. That’s a big responsibility that demands a simple, clear and straightforward mission with a clear vision that’s guided by our values. 


“We are always looking for new ways to support Vancouver’s clean energy transition, and are thrilled to collaborate with UBC, TransLink and BC Hydro to address a major source of GHG emissions – public transit. We expect the project outcomes to directly support our Zero Emission Economic Transition Action Plan (ZEETAP). Vancouver’s well-earned status as a hub for digital innovation and climate action translates perfectly to this project, which will help businesses drive new innovations and aid the public sector in delivering top-quality service, now and in the years to come.”

James Raymond
Senior Manager, Research
Vancouver Economic Commission

About Vancouver Economic Commission (VEC) 

The Vancouver Economic Commission’s (VEC) mandate is to build a prosperous, inclusive, zero carbon and resilient economy in Vancouver. VEC fulfils this mandate by working on the economic transition towards a just and economically resilient future for Vancouver, in which there is prosperity for all. VEC’s work is anchored in collecting and sharing research and information; providing expert insights to relevant policymakers; engaging stakeholders and rights holders in the business, academic and investor communities; and leading, partnering and overseeing strategic initiatives, programs and events in the local economy oriented to VEC’s four pledges for issues-based economic development. 


About Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) 

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada is a federal agency that funds visionaries, explorers and innovators who are searching for the scientific and technical breakthroughs that will benefit Canada. 

NSERC Alliance Missions grants provide a unique opportunity to address critical science and technology challenges that can play a pivotal role in Canada’s economy. The main objectives include accelerating the translation of Canada’s world-class research results into economic opportunities, and informing policy that could have an impact on Canada’s economy.