Home Buses End of the DesignLine for new buses

End of the DesignLine for new buses

by Benjamin Kabak

Once upon a time, the glory days of late 2007, the MTA had high hopes for a battery-powered bus with a turbine engine from DesignLine. The authority ran a test bus throughout the fall and ordered a small series of five in 2009 for a pilot. At the time, these vehicles were in the running to be the bus of the future, and in late 2009, the public voiced its approval. Alas, it is not to be.

For the past few weeks, I’d heard rumblings that the DesignLine bus pilot had failed, and Transit today confirmed the news. They summed it up in a statement:

“Based on testing that was conducted on DesignLine buses from August 2009 through December 2010 it became clear that the 30KW turbine engine did not provide enough power to operate in regular passenger service in a multitude of conditions. A larger 65KW turbine was fitted on a test bus but after extensive testing in service operation, it proved to lack an acceptable level of reliability for NYCT passenger service. We will return the five buses that were in Evaluation Service and all monies that were given to DesignLine will be refunded to NYC Transit.”

So much for that.

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20 comments

Cap'n Transit February 3, 2011 - 6:44 pm

Any word on the double-deckers?

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Benjamin Kabak February 3, 2011 - 7:08 pm

No word on that yet.

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SEAN February 3, 2011 - 8:31 pm

Too bad, but sometimes you just need to give it a shot with something new.

Ben, have you ever herd of a company called Wright Streetcar? They make a rather interesting type of bus. At first glance you might think it is a light rail train, but it is a 60 foot articulated hybrid bus that is 100% low floor with 3 sets of doors. The engine is extremely quiet & gives off a unique whistle when the excelerator is pressed.

Las Vegas’s RTC http://www.rtcsnv.com is using these busses as part of there new “Express” BRT lines

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Ian W. February 3, 2011 - 7:59 pm

I will miss seeing their smiling faces.

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BrooklynBus February 4, 2011 - 9:36 am

Maybe someone at least could salvage that design. Better than bus with a frown.

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paulb February 3, 2011 - 8:44 pm

Not surprised. How many times? But the gas turbine dudes, they just won’t concede.

The Nova LFS buses, they have a smile too, sorta.

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noah February 4, 2011 - 1:12 am

well that’s kinda good news. glad to hear they evaluated it and scraped it before it became another money pit. maybe someday, but not today, we’ll have all electric eh?

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Skip Skipson February 4, 2011 - 9:01 am

Better to hear this than…

MTA ordered XX,XXX Designline buses to replace its fleet, just to find that the buses are not up to NYC specs. The cost of XX,XXX buses was $XXX,XXX,XXX. MTA cannot recoup this revenue.

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AlexB February 4, 2011 - 10:36 am

They ordered 5 buses as a pilot, not a fleet of them.

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Skip Skipson February 4, 2011 - 1:30 pm

What I mean is that I’m glad the MTA ran these 5 buses ragged. MTA did its due diligence. They didn’t order an entire fleet of buses.

In the past the MTA purchased a bunch of Grumman 870 busses in the 80’s, only to find out that they were crap.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flxible_Metro

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AlexB February 4, 2011 - 10:36 am

Any possibility they are trying to better tweak the design for another better pilot?

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jordash February 4, 2011 - 12:39 pm

Could be sabotage!
Sounds like the same people that did in the Tucker Automobile!
And recently shredded about a million electric cars!
This should be thoroughly investigated quickly!

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pete February 4, 2011 - 1:57 pm

GM left the bus business decades ago. NYCT has no GM buses anymore (all scrapped).

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bunty February 4, 2011 - 4:59 pm

i don’t think it will be ‘sabotage’, jordash. sounds to me like they are just crap!

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Spendmore Wastemore February 5, 2011 - 6:55 pm

This is actually good news:

1. MTA tries something new, putting a reasonable scale of testing in place. Five buses, and two or maybe more propulsion variants.
2. For whatever reason it didn’t work here, and they wanted to test in real world rather than sim conditions. The grindingly slow low speed use, pavement full of holes and stops every 500 feet put a lot of wear per mile on equipment.

They actually did something right. If were’re really lucky, whatever was learned in this experiment will become known and this or another supplier will take account if it in a future bus.

The bus system would be better off by eliminating or re purposing any bus line averaging less than about 3 mph over it’s route. 3mph is a modest walking speed; if the bus moves at a walk, it is a 15+ ton machine doing nothing for most of its passengers. You’d still need to transport the disabled and offer some alternative for people schlepping stuff, that could be done with smaller vehicles. As it is, some lines mostly serve to block traffic and waste resources.

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BBnet3000 February 6, 2011 - 1:13 pm

It would be better off by converting these slow routes into SBS.

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Andrew February 6, 2011 - 10:27 pm

If people are riding those bus lines, presumably there’s a reason they’re riding them. Converting the buses to smaller vehicles would just mean they’d have to run more frequently, increasing operating costs.

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electrive.net » Audi A1 e-tron, mia, Schweizer Electronic, Panasonic. February 8, 2011 - 2:42 am

[…] Motoren-Konzept von DesignLine wegen mangelnder Alltagstauglichkeit vorzeitig abgebrochen. secondavenuesagas.com, […]

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Jason February 8, 2011 - 1:58 pm

Were these the only turbine buses that have been tried? I’m pretty sure I remember being on an M1 or M6 on lower Broadway, and it had a really odd seat configuration in the back. There was a turbine on the left side. Not sure when this was but I think around 2000-2003 or so.

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Mrpete MD February 13, 2011 - 5:36 pm

Baltimore is ending it’s almost two year run with DesignLine. For the three route Charm City Circulator service (CCC), not operated by the MTA, 21 DesignLine Eco Saver IV’s were ordered of which 13 were delivered. They have proven to be seriously unreliable. City Hall confirmed rumors that had arisen and news reports that the buses were on the way out. Here’s the official City Hall announcement:http://www.charmcitycirculator.....tion-fleet.

Veolia operates the service for the the city. Thirteen Orion 7NGs are on order to replace the DesignLines while five Van Hool A300L’s have been leased to take up the slack.

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