WESTCHESTER, NY. Sen. Hilary Clinton (D) paid a visit to the Bee-Line Vahalla Bus terminal yesterday to help launch a test of four diesel-electric “series” hybrid buses.
The buses were assembled by a DaimlerChrysler Commercial Buses facility in Oriskany, NY, with its powertrain supplied by a BAE Systems plant in Johnson City, NY, and emission control devices from Corning, NY-based Corning.
“I’m excited because the Westchester County Bee-Line program is finally taking off,” Sen. Hilary Clinton (D) said. “This is truly a New York product. We’re creating jobs upstate and cleaning the air down here at Westchester.”
Both Clinton and Rep. Nita Lowey (D) said the hybrid investment is a step to curb global warming, noting a tornado that struck Westchester last Wednesday. “Maybe this issue of global warming does have an impact even to the people of Westchester,” Lowey said, referring to the tornado.
According to DaimlerChrysler, the Orion VII diesel-electric bus boosts fuel economy by 30% while reducing emissions—up to 90% less particulate matter, 40% less nitrogen oxide, and 25% less greenhouse gas emissions compared to current diesel models.
Today these buses are running regular routes in the County’s Bee-Line system. By 2008, the County will decide whether the hybrid technology will be a standard for future Westchester transit bus purchases.
Running at $592,000 per bus, compared with $400,000 for a conventional diesel bus, the initial investment certainly isn’t cheap. The County is hoping that the fuel and maintenance savings in addition to emissions benefits will outweigh that, especially as hybrid technology becomes more affordable.
Being a “series” hybrid, a single electric motor—powered by a Cummins ISB 5.9-liter engine—turns the drive wheels. This differs from a more conventional “parallel” hybrid whereby a diesel engine turns the drive wheels while an electric motor assists.
The Orion VII hybrid also features a regenerative braking system that uses the drive motor to slow down the bus to turn the motor into a generator. According to DaimlerChrysler, the design eliminates the mechanical transmission to significantly cut maintenance costs.
The battery, which lies on top of the bus, weighs in at 3,000 lbs. is 100% recyclable and has a three-year life cycle. “Lead acid is the clear winner compared with other technologies,” Mark Brager, Orion Bus Industries vp of sales told FleetOwner. “While the technology may not be the most sophisticated, we’ve found that it’s the most cost effective.”
Noting a transit bus’s typical 12-year life cycle, Brager said that the staying power of the technology will be for “quite some time.”
The Westchester delivery follows the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority’s acceptance of the first of 56 of the same bus model on June 1.[email protected]