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Diesel hybrid buses make inroads in New York City

Diesel hybrid buses make inroads in New York City

Diesel hybrids buses make inroads in New York City

Diesel-hybrid technology appears to be gaining acceptance among emissions-conscientious New York City Transit officials.

A total of 325 diesel-electric buses will be delivered to Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) New York City Transit (NYCT) by the end of 2005, which will give the city the largest hybrid bus fleet in the world, according to Orion Bus Industries. The hybrid buses would account for 7% of its total fleet of 4,512.

NYCT tomorrow is expected to outline its proposal to reallocate money that has been budgeted for 120 compressed natural gas (CNG) buses and 55 extra-long buses in favor of 100 hybrid-electric buses, with an option to buy 400 more, and 20 extra-long hybrids, The New York Times reported.

A sticking point was the fact that NYCT would piggyback the hybrids off of its existing diesel fuel infrastructure. By the end of 2005 NYCT projects that 4,031 (89%) of its fleet will use diesel. The hybrids will run on the same diesel that powers the rest of its fleet.

“NYCT has adopted a one diesel fuel policy for all their diesel vehicles,” Joe Wagner, senior project manager of transportation research at the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, told Fleet Owner. “They want to use diesel hybrids any place they use a diesel bus.”

NYCT does not expect to receive any new CNG buses in 2005; 260 were added to the fleet last year. Fueling a larger fleet of CNG buses would require a costly renovation and expansion of its CNG infrastructure, Wagner added.

In 1998, Gov. George E. Pataki promised to convert the Manhattanville Bus Depot into a compressed natural gas center, a conversion that was expected to cost $50 million, The New York Times reported. However, with NYCT embracing the clean diesel technologies currently available, the bus depot project may be scrapped.

Hybrid buses retail at a hefty premium, however, as they typically are between $125,000 and $200,000 more than their conventional counterparts. NYCT says this is mitigated by an estimated $100,000 savings in fuel costs over a 12-year life span, as well as maintenance savings on brake components.

Orion Bus Industries, a brand of DaimlerChrysler, will deliver the hybrids. The powertrain system is comprised of a single electric motor powered by a diesel-driven generator and an energy storage unit. The engine is smaller than that used on conventional buses and utilizes the drive motor to slow the bus. This regenerative braking system reduces brake wear by about one-third.

“These buses are delivering on the dual promise of lower emissions and better fuel economy while also improving vehicle performance and reducing maintenance needs for transmissions and brakes,” said Mark Brager, Orion vp—sales.

NYCT put 125 hybrid buses into service in February 2004, using them interchangeably with its regular fleet. In February 2005, the agency reported that 116 buses were still in service after logging one-million miles, with no major problems in the propulsion system to date.

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