Hybrid Buses Make Dent In Fuel Bill

The MTA is reporting that their new Orion VII hybrid buses are making a big dent fuel consumption. Orion VII hybrid buses have improved fuel economy of more than 30% compared to conventionally powered buses. In addition, the Orion hybrids significantly reduce emissions with 90% less particulate matter, 40% fewer oxides of nitrogen, and 30% fewer greenhouse gases. The MTA estimates that they saved over 1 million gallons of diesel fuel last year.

From AMNY:

The MTA's fleet of hybrid-electric buses logged more than 10 million miles since they were first introduced a decade ago, transit officials announced Thursday.

The 325 hybrid buses, that are partially powered electrically, saved an estimated one million gallons of gas when compared to conventional diesel buses, the MTA said.

"The state-of-the art propulsion system produces lower emissions while providing a measurable fuel economy benefit," said Lawrence Reuter, president of New York City Transit.

And I would add that they are significantly quieter than the conventional diesel engine.

While this is definitely a step in the right direction, another way of improving the fuel efficiency of the bus system (Bus Rapid Transit) seems to be stuck in the mud right now - waiting for the NYC DOT to agree on the elimination of parking spaces. Buses use tremendous amounts of fuel in traffic jams.

And of course, the most efficient design would be to move to electric powered buses which produce near zero emissions on city streets and engines that last for much longer than Internal Combustion Engines. But that seems a long way off right now (at least in NYC).

While this is definitely a step in the right direction, another way of improving the fuel efficiency of the bus system (Bus Rapid Transit) seems to be stuck in the mud right now - waiting for the NYC DOT to agree on the elimination of parking spaces. Buses use tremendous amounts of fuel in traffic jams.

Well there's your problem right there.  Obviously the correct solution is to eliminate the buses.  Parked cars use no fuel at all!  Sheesh, why do I have to be the smart one all the time?

I bet on any day in NYC there are thousands of empty parking spots available. You simply have go to a parking garage to pay for them. And most people consider that a last resort.

The simple solution is to push as many cars from the street curbs to the private or municipal garages to free up curbside space for truck deliveries, taxi pick-up and drop-off and buses.

I was impressed (as a visitor from London, where we have lots of measures, rapacious parking enforcement, but lots of 'sound and fury, signifying nothing')

by the Manhattan parking signs (on the street), which said (from memory):

'we don't ticket.  We tow'.

This is surely the way to keep traffic moving-- a credible deterrent which is enforced.  A very New York solution: blunt and to the point.

(we use surveillance cameras to enforce bus lanes, now).

Eventually I think you will move to a London-like congestion charge (£10 ie $18 to drive into the central zone 7am to 7pm Monday to Friday).  However I expect your civil libertarians will fight harder than ours.

I was stunned by the number of SUVs on New York streets, each taking up almost 2 car lengths or parking spaces.  I mean, you expect that in Texas or Wyoming, but in New York City?  Where do these people drive these things?  Where do they park them?  What do they carry in them?  (this ain't soccer moms, in the middle of Manhattan).

Our mayor is considering special charges for longer vehicles (he hates SUVs, but as a former Trotskyite, Red Ken is partly a class warfare thing: the London SUV is normally a Range Rover/ Porsche Cayenne/ Toyota Landcruiser driven by some rich hedge fund manager (or his spouse) with more money than brains, and a need to extend the length of his proboscis... Jared Diamonds 'The Third Chimpanzee' comes readily to mind).

I'm really curious about the noise and vibration levels in these.  Certainly the conventional buses in Milwaukee are very loud and suffer astonishing levels of vibration (which rattles the interior, contributing to the noise).  If anyone actually cared what the passengers thought or wanted to attract those potential passengers who could always just choose to take their cars a quieter, smoother ride would help.
These newer buses are much nicer and quieter (inside and outside) than just the last model that were supposed to a vast improvement over what we used to have.
In the US buses are normally underinvested.  It's the bottom of the municipal budget when there is capital spending to be spent.

Consider who rides in them: working class people who don't own cars, or are not able to drive for medical or other reasons.

This is a group of people who are used to getting second best in life-- nice buses is hardly top of the list for some Filipino nanny or Afro-American housekeeper or a mental health patient (that latter from a friend of mine who didn't have a valid US license for a while (UK driver) who took the bus too and from Berkeley where he was studying-- talking to his fellow busmates).

They are hardly going to have a loud political voice against overstretched city budgets.

In Toronto there is an extremely affluent neighbourhood (Post Road in North York) where the houses run 5-$10m.  The ratepayers wanted to do away with the bus service that ran up there streets, until it was pointed out to them that their maids and nannies used it to get to their houses.

Of course, it's a downward spiral.  Bad buses mean fewer middle class people use them, which means services are cut, which means fewer people use them.

That death spiral has killed public transit systems all across the world.

It is sobering in China to see how they are throwing away their bicycles, and how you only use the bus if you have no choice.  The car is the thing for the aspirant middle class, and already the traffic in most major cities is killing.

In 50 years time they'll realise they made a mistake, just like we do, now.

I wonder what the additional procurement cost was?

It's hard to get civic procurement to focus on life cycle cost, rather than headline cost.  They are very sensitive to the charge that they have wasted public money, whereas the maintenance and fuel budget is much less sensitive.

Interesting: I didn't know there were hybrid propulsion vehicles 10 years ago, at least not in the municipal bus sector.  As you say over there: 'who knew?'


(elementary lesson of the 'net: google it first!).

Orion VII Hybrid Buses are rolling out across the U. S and Canada. Orion, a subsidiary of DaimlerChrysler has rolled out its diesel-electric hybrid buses New York, and further roll outs to cities like St. Louis, San Francisco and Toronto are in the works.