September 14, 2011

Valley Metro adds 17 hybrid-electric buses

Bus passengers on several of Valley Metro's Tempe, Ariz. routes are getting to ride on new 60-foot, hybrid-electric buses since being introduced in early September.

These 17 hybrid-electric New Flyer buses are environmentally-friendly and will save money in fuel and maintenance costs. They will replace older 30-, 35- and 40-foot Tempe buses that have surpassed their useful life, which is 500,000 miles or 12 years.

“Over the last three years, Tempe has modified its bus routes and reduced service in some areas in order to balance the transit budget,” said Greg Jordan, interim deputy public works director. “These larger buses will reduce overcrowding along heavily traveled corridors throughout the region.”

The fleet was paid for with regional Proposition 400 funds, Federal Transit Administration (FTA) 5307 formula grant funds specifically allocated for bus fleet replacement and FTA’s Clean Fuels Grant Program, which provided the hybrid propulsion system. Environmental benefits include less pollution, less noise, better riding experience for passengers, and reduced parts and labor costs.

One unique characteristic of the hybrid-electric bus is its engine, which is programmed to idle while the bus is operating in the electric mode. From 0 to 15 mph, the bus runs on stored electrical power. When a typical bus accelerates from a stop light, the engine labors, producing heavy exhaust emissions and loud noise. With the new 60-foot, hybrid-electric buses, heavy emissions and noise are eliminated during acceleration.

In addition, when the bus operator removes their foot from the accelerator, the electric motors reverse direction to provide dynamic braking without having to actually use the brakes. This extends the brake life beyond the typical 75,000 miles to over 250,000 miles before brake servicing is required.

These vehicles represent the second generation of Tempe’s transit bus fleet and continue the city’s commitment to alternative fuel technology, innovation, efficiency and a high regard for passenger service.

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