Have Hybrid Buses Turned the Corner?

This article presents an analysis of hybrid-electric buses and various issues affecting their attractiveness from an environmental as well as fiscal point of view. The use of the technology has grown significantly for transit properties in the last five years, and there are now half a dozen suppliers, with more on the way. A study conducted in 2005 by the Northeast Advanced Vehicle Consortium (NAVC) and released in August interviewed transit agency personnel, private bus companies, system developers and manufacturers and research groups. The results are generally favorable, but capital costs remain 60 to 80 percent higher than for comparable diesel-fueled buses. The biggest outlay is for the high-voltage electric drive and advanced battery packs, which add between $170,000 and $250,000 to the cost. But participants in the study predicted costs should come down as the technology is used more widely or if the government were to sponsor hybrid-specific grants. When compared to conventional buses in the few large fleets that have purchased both, hybrids seem to be performing well. Even though fuel economy has added value to hybrids, the study's authors caution that may not last throughout the operating life. Particular aspects of electric-drive technology result in lower maintenance, especially because of fewer moving parts and dynamic braking. But most buses of this type have not been in revenue service long enough to get useful data. Other benefits include quieter rides, conversion of unused energy to usable energy, and using the bus's energy source to power all on-board system. A drawback is the battery life and storage. Replacing batteries will be a huge expense, unless alternatives such as ultra-capacitors can be developed. Training is also necessary to alleviate worries caused by the presence of high voltage.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Print
  • Features: Illustrations; Photos;
  • Pagination: pp 44-47
  • Serial:

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01015009
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: UC Berkeley Transportation Library
  • Files: BTRIS, TRIS
  • Created Date: Dec 7 2005 6:20PM