More cities are cleaning up their act by introducing hybrid buses to their existing fleets. Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Ann Arbor, Minneapolis, and St. Paul recently purchased fleets of diesel-electric hybrids, and in New York and Seattle, hybrids saved over three miles to the gallon (over 34% more miles in NYC, and 27% more in Seattle), says a report in USA Today. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) applauded both cities for their hybrid vehicles, which use fuel more efficiently than conventional diesel buses.
Although hybrids are growing in popularity, they account for only 2-3% of the buses in city fleets, according to a 2007 survey by the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA). Fortunately, more metropolitan areas are wising up, caving to pressure to save on fuel and improve emissions standards; the survey also found that 22% of new bus orders are hybrids.
Mercedes-Benz is also getting onboard the hybrid bus craze with their newly developed Citaro, which won the 2008 DEKRA Environmental Award for its ecological innovation. The bus was manufactured by Mercedes’s Daimler division; Daimler is the world’s top-seller of hybrid buses, namely to the US and Japan.
The Citaro, a series-hybrid, touts a smart design that will allow future operators to replace the diesel engine with a hydrogen fuel cell, so the bus has the potential to produce zero emissions and stay apace with greener technology. Daimler expects that the hybrid will consume 20-30% less fuel than conventional diesel Citaros, and will market a small number for sale in 2009.
We’re hopeful that bus and rail hybrids will not only clean up smoggy city air, but will help make commuting via public transit a bit more hip, especially to eco-friendly commuters who would otherwise drive their Prius. If you’re hitting the freeway, better to do it in a hybrid bus than in your own—dare we say it—car.
Photo via flickr by Danny_McL
- NYC Looks at New Hybrid Buses
- Ann Arbor Buses Going Hybrid
- Hydrogen Buses in London
- Tokyo’s Plugless Plug-in Hybrid Bus
- France Launches Hybrid Train