Home Buses Transit debuts turbine bus of the future

Transit debuts turbine bus of the future

by Benjamin Kabak

DesignLine Bus Photo

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.

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rhywun August 28, 2009 - 8:01 am

Hallelujah. I live near a stop and every bus that passes my front window emits this explosion of air when it’s changing gears or something. Sends my cats running in terror to the back of the house every time.

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[…] Tests New, Quieter Turbine-Engine Bus (City Room, 2nd Ave Sagas, AMNY, […]

SEAN August 28, 2009 - 12:51 pm

hmmmm! Interesting. Are stimulus funds paying for the busses? I rode one of the new NABI low floor busses on the Bee-line System this morning & it was fantastic! Step on & step off without a problem. An elderly woman I know who rides every day said this is great! Plus she walks with a cane.

nabi October 6, 2009 - 10:01 pm

we got nabi low floor buses in albany ny they r great and the run good

Amitabha Mukhopadhyay August 28, 2009 - 2:28 pm

This type of buses are the future of transportation. One more area that would contribute effectively in near future is bio diesel powered buses. These type of buses will leave zero carbon foot print.For a glimpse into the world of future transportation please vist the webside http://www.eloquentbooks.com/M.....080AD.html

Mike Nitabach August 28, 2009 - 7:03 pm

Very cool looking front end! And finally the “new” MTA logo is starting to grow on me. Of course, as soon as I really learn to love it, they’ll come out with a new one!

Alon Levy August 28, 2009 - 8:13 pm

Your first sentence is misleading. Buses that run on turbine power aren’t 100% battery powered, or else they’d be all-electric vehicles.

Mike Nitabach August 31, 2009 - 9:45 pm

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.


On Sunday AM at about 10:45AM I was walking uptown on the East side of 1st Avenue. As I was about to cross 41st Street I saw one of the M42s that wait on 41st Street before beginning the route start to move forward to turn right onto 1st Ave. So I stopped crossing 41st Street, but the driver waved me across in front of him.

And then I realized, “Holy moly! It’s the turbine bus!” It really looks cool! It looks noticeably smaller than a regular bus.

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