The MTA is Testing Battery-Powered Buses


Here’s a good little item that nearly slipped past us. City Room reported the other day that the MTA is testing new battery-powered buses:

The city’s other hybrid buses run like hybrid cars. They run off
battery power some of the time and diesel or (in the case of many cars)
gas engines at other times. And the braking action helps charge the

The test bus is different in that it runs on battery power all the time.

Jerry Higgins, the director of new bus technology for New York City Transit, said the manufacturer predicts the bus will get about seven miles per gallon, which is about double the fuel efficiency of the transportation authority’s current hybrid bus fleet.

The bus will be tested here for two months and if the authority likes what it sees, it may consider placing an order.

Photo: Librado Romero/The New York Times

  • greg

    is it quiet(er)?

  • lee

    and judging by how hard my busdriver hits those breaks these things should be recharging like crazy.

  • Patrick

    These new buses are great, but don’t believe everything you read.

    The MTA’s existing hybrid buses also run on electricity all of the time — the diesel engine is not connected to the wheels — it is used to charge the battery. The only downside of the existing hybrids is that the engine does not shut off when the battery is fully charged.

    The turbine generator is much more efficient at generating electricity for charging the battery, and it will shut off when the battery is fully charged.

    These buses will be much more expensive than the existing hybrid buses, but not because of the turbine. This turbine bus most likely has electric-driven air conditioning and power steering, which is much more expensive, but also much more efficient than the belt-driven accessories on the existing hybrids.

    It appears that these turbine buses can also be plugged in at night, so that the bus will leave the depot with a fully charged battery. This further reduces fuel use and emmissions.

    While I doubt the MTA will buy this particular bus, I certainly see them asking the current hybrid bus vendor to investigate designing new hybrid buses by replacing the existing diesel engine with the diesel turbine.

    We also need to see some low-floor, hybrid articulated buses, with additional exit doors to reduce dwell times. There are low-floor articulated hybrids in Seattle, but so far, the MTA has shown little interest.

  • Ian D

    Buses in virtually every European city are quieter, cleaner, more comfortable and more modern-looking than any buses that I see here (though many have pathetic air conditioning, I must admit).

    Can’t we swallow our pride and steal their ideas – or at least their Mercedes, Volvo and Saab buses?

    And is it just me, or is this bus decorated to look like a rolling Wachovia bank ad?

  • jmc

    The low-floor articulated hybrids in Seattle are not good and we should all be glad that MTA did not purchase them as they’d give a bad name to hybrids.

    The Seattle buses are New Flyer low-floor hybrids with GM/Allison hybrid drive system. While they were much-touted in the local press initially they actually get only 3.5 mpg, worse than the buses that they replaced (which got 3.8 mpg!!!). The Orion-VIIs used in the city get ~4.5 mpg (they have a superior hybrid system from BAE systems). This bus is supposed to get 7 mpg.

    This bus is from New Zealand, but the company has an american headquarters.

    I have yet to try out this bus but I do plan on it and will give you a full report.

  • gecko

    should use it for mobile spinning classes to limit the cycles and charge time.


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