During the fall of 2007, the MTA along with Design Line International rolled out a diesel turbine hybrid bus that run on 100 percent battery power. At the time, Transit was set to test the buses in Queens and Manhattan before deciding whether or not to order more.
Well, more are on the way. Transit announced on Thursday that eight low-floor, turbine-powered, hybrid-electric buses are bound for New York City as part of a pilot program. The initial test run, currently in progress, will unleash one of these state-of-the-art coaches along the M42 route, and if successful, the MTA could opt to bring this clean green vehicles to bus routes across the city. It is, in the words of Transit spokesman Paul Fleuranges, “yet another example of the agency’s ongoing effort to examine new technology that will help us reduce emissions and provide more economical and environmentally friendly service.”
Fleuranges spoke at lenght about the buses on one of Transit’s TransitTrax podcasts. (Transcript here; MP3 file here) Not only are the buses environmentally-friendly, but they are economically-friendly and audio-friendly as well. In fact, it will be the only bus in Transit’s feelt to meet the EPA’s 2010 emissions standards without the need for exhaust treatment. “The bus is revolutionary,” Joseph J. Smith, a senior vice president at the Department of Buses, said. “It has no starter, no transmission, no water pump and no engine radiator, which should help us significantly reduce our maintenance costs.”
Tim Duncan, the product manager at Design Line, spoke at length about the technology: ” The whole bus is designed so that the batteries run the electric motors and its two electric motors that drive the propulsion system to move the bus along the ground and then, as the batteries get flat, the turbine generator starts up and will charge the batteries. And when the batteries get fully charged it will shut down and the vehicle will run on zero emissions; it’ll run for up to two hours without any emissions, and then when the batteries get low again, then the turbine kicks in.”
The turbine engine also creates far less noise than the city’s current fleet of buses. This will be welcome news to anyone who lives near or above a bus stop. The MTA’s buses are far from quiet.
For now, these buses are udergoing structural testing as part of the New Bus Qualification program. While the Oct. 2007 test runs were simply introductory efforts, this fleet of eight was built to NYC Transit specifications. Also under review are structural aspects of the buses. These buses feature a curved front window designed to give the vehicle a “happy” look and are sleeker than the current buses. As for seating, these vehicles will fit either 35 or 37 with room for 30 standees. The current Orion VII Low Floor buses, by comparison, can seat up to 44, depending upon the configuration, and the city’s articulated buses can seat around 60 passengers.
After 90 days of review, Transit will give its recommendations to Design Line and decide whether to follow through on a purchase order. If the tests are positive, the base order will be for 30 with an option to purchase 60 more buses. In the end, it’s hard not to be excited about these buses. They’re sleek, green, quiet and cheap to maintain. That’s forward thinking at the MTA.