Hype-Brids

16 May

The NFTA recently transformed a lot of its buses to diesel/electric hybrids. So did Toronto’s TTC. But in Toronto, they discovered this:

Toronto’s new and expensive hybrid buses are saving less than half the amount of diesel fuel the transit agency – and the governments that paid for them – claimed.

The Toronto Transit Commission and the federal, provincial and city governments said as recently as March that the new hybrid diesel-electric buses – which cost $734,000, compared with $500,000 for a conventional bus – were using 20 to 30 per cent less fuel.

But the TTC’s current fuel-savings estimate, incorporated in its 2008 budget after tests on the new fleet last summer, is just 10 per cent – although officials expect that number to improve.

Since hybrids only make sense in stop-and-go, heavy traffic*, I’d wager that the fuel savings in the Buffalo-Niagara region is even lower still.

The NFTA says:

Metro estimates a 25% to 30% reduction in fuel based on the efficiencies of the hybrid drivetrain.

If Toronto is getting 10 – 20% savings, I’d bet that we’re getting 5 – 10%. If that.

*The hallmarks of hybrid engines are engine start/stop, occasional electric propulsion, and brake regeneration. For that to make sense, you need to be stopping and braking a lot. Hybrid vehicles make zero sense in zero traffic WNY.

2 Responses to “Hype-Brids”

  1. indabuff May 16, 2008 at 8:55 am #

    A majority of NFTA ridership is in the city and in high density first ring suburbs…if you have ever ridden the bus in the city, there is a lot of stop-n-go traffic…between the lights and stops alone, there is a lot of s-n-g…I can’t attest for every route, but I know that Main, Bailey, Broadway, Elmwood & Kenmore busses stop often…I never believe savings estimates, but I can see a 10-20% savings.

  2. Timothy Domst May 16, 2008 at 7:58 pm #

    Have you ever driven behind the Elmwood bus? It is stop and go all the time.

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