30 March 2005

The MTA New York City Transit (NYCT) has decided to change its clean bus strategy, which will rely exclusively on hybrid diesel-electric buses. The NYCT wants to stop buying compressed natural gas (CNG) buses, according to the New York Times.

MTA’s clean bus program originally relied on two bus technologies: hybrids and CNG. However, CNG buses require special facilities (fueling equipment, safety regulations) which are expensive to build and maintain. They also consume more fuel. Hybrid buses, on the other hand, cost $125,000 to $200,000 more than regular diesel buses, but the added expense is expected to be paid off through savings on fuel. Emissions from CNG and hybrid diesel-electric buses are practically equivalent.

The MTA started tests with a fleet of ten Orion VI hybrids in late 1998. The first order for 125 Orion VII buses was placed in 2000, and was filled during 2004. A second order for 200 more Orion hybrids has been already placed. The total of 325 hybrid buses represents 7% of the entire MTA fleet of 4,512 buses. The new proposal calls for ordering 500 more hybrid buses. The Orion buses utilize the HybriDrive™ series hybrid propulsion system by BAE Systems.

Under the new strategy, NYCT intends to reallocate money that had been budgeted for 120 CNG buses and 55 extra-long diesel buses. The funds would instead be used for 100 hybrid buses, with an option to buy 400 more in the future, and 20 extra-long hybrids. The MTA board is scheduled to vote on the proposal tomorrow.

Source: New York Times