Dec 22, 2006

Edmonton Transit tries out hybrid buses

Edmonton Transit is engaging in a little bit of tire-kicking this winter.

Two diesel-electric hybrid buses went into service in Edmonton on Mon, Dec 18. The buses are manufactured by Mississauga’s Orion Bus Industries, a division of DaimlerChrysler, and are designed to use as little as 50 per cent of the fuel burned up by traditional diesel buses in optimal operating conditions.

Under ordinary operating conditions in cities where similar buses are already in use, however, the real number is closer to 80 per cent, but it is unknown how the buses will fare in the city’s cold climate and relatively high altitude.

As such, ETS will be working with the University of Alberta to monitor the two buses, which are currently servicing route 106 between West Edmonton Mall and Capilano, as well as two different kinds of hybrid buses built by Winnipeg-based New Flyer—who also supply Vancouver and Toronto’s transit systems—which go into service once they are delivered sometime next year.

The Orion buses, which cost upwards of $530 000 US—60 per cent more than traditional diesel buses—are already a major part of transit systems in several major cities, including New York, where the Metropolitan Transportation Authority already has more than 500 of the buses in service and is in the process of adding 300 more.

According to a recent study by the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the fuel efficiency of MTA’s hybrid busses is 30 per cent better than its traditional diesel buses and between 60 and 120 per cent higher than natural gas vehicles.

“The test is part of Edmonton Transit’s commitment to explore innovative new technologies to help provide safe, efficient and environmentally friendly service,” said ETS bus fleet, equipment and maintenance supervisor James Bryant in a press release, which also noted that the new buses’ performance, maintenance costs, fuel economy, reliability, noise and emissions will be recorded and analyzed, while customers will be surveyed to gauge their reaction to the new vehicles.

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