The Société de transport de Laval
(STL) is showing environmental leadership once again. After reducing public transit fares from $2.75 to $1 on smog days, it's now offering electric vehicles to commuters who use the subway or train. It's part of the CLIC project, a unique carpooling initiative in Canada.
Instead of taking their own cars, users get to drive electric vehicles supplied by the STL and the Agence métropolitaine de transport
(AMT) – from their home to one of three designated park-and-ride lots.
Similar services exist in Chicago (which has a fleet of 600 commuter cars), Minneapolis, and the state of Washington. Across the Atlantic, there's a car-sharing program in Paris called ''Autolib,'' which allows subscribers to rent cute little smart fortwo EVs for a specific period of time.
With CLIC, a carpooling team consists of a designated driver, a substitute, and two passengers. The designated driver keeps the vehicle at all times and is allocated 200 kilometres a month for personal use. He or she must pay $0.40 for every exceeding kilometre, which is definitely not uncommon according to the STL. How can you blame them given the soaring gas prices!
Participants don't have to worry about operating costs; all they need is an annual TRAM 3 public transit pass. Maintenance and repairs are taken care of by the STL and AMT, which rely on a local car dealer. Hydro-Quebec already set up charging stations at the various terminuses, while General Motors provided a number of Chevrolet Volt
Why not the Nissan LEAF
or Mitsubishi i-MiEV
? Simply because GM's electric car came to market first – at least that's what an AMT spokeswoman said.
The Volt can run in full electric mode at up to 160 km/h for anywhere between 40 and 80 kilometres, depending on the outdoor temperature, road conditions, and driving style. With 111 kilowatts (149 horsepower) on tap, the car accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in less than nine seconds.
CLIC users have noticed a significant drop in performance during the winter months (starting around November), with total range falling to about 30 kilometres. When the battery charge is too low, the range-extending 1.4L gasoline engine steps in. A full charge and tank allows drivers to cover up to 580 kilometres, with top speed still at 160 km/h.
As mentioned earlier, charging stations can be found at the three designated park-and-ride lots along with reserved parking spaces. Charging takes 10 hours from a 120V source, and four hours from a 240V source. Domestic charging is also possible using a 120V outlet.
For more information about CLIC, go to www.stl.laval.qc.ca/lang/fr/services-et-tarifs/clic/
. Hopefully, this project will spawn similar Earth-saving initiatives from coast to coast!
|Photo: Société de transport de Laval