Friday, October 31, 2014

More Cities Experiment with Electric Buses and Other, Cleaner Forms of Mass Transit

The Eaton power management company claims that its new "HyperCharger" can recharge a battery-powered bus in as little as 10 minutes. (Credit: Eaton Corp.) Click to enlarge.
In hilly central Massachusetts, the Worcester Regional Transit Authority's six electric buses average the equivalent of 16 to 18 mpg and have saved the agency an estimated $80,000 on fuel since last fall.

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, which serves the Philadelphia area and first experimented with hybrid buses about a decade ago, has 400 hybrids in its 1,400-vehicle fleet and will soon receive 60-foot articulated hybrid buses.

Close to booming natural gas exploration, Dallas Area Rapid Transit, or DART, is phasing out diesel and liquefied natural gas (LNG) from its 612-vehicle fleet in favor of compressed natural gas (CNG).

Just as American drivers balance fuel economy, sticker price and overall value when buying cars, transportation departments nationwide are increasingly forced to weigh fiscal constraints with long-term economic and environmental merits and pitfalls before placing their next bus orders.

In 1996, 95 percent of buses in the United States were diesel-powered and just under 3 percent used CNG, LNG or blended fuels, according to the American Public Transportation Association's September report.

As of 2013, the most common bus systems have shifted significantly:  58 percent of U.S. buses ran on diesel; 20 percent used natural gas and blends; 13 percent were electric or hybrid buses; and 7 percent relied on biodiesel.

Faced with a diversity of choices as electric bus makers have multiplied and as diesel and hybrid engines have become more efficient, transit providers are following their own blueprints.

Read More at More Cities Experiment with Electric Buses and Other, Cleaner Forms of Mass Transit

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