Hybrids buses saving 23% on fuel
By Lauren Redding
Despite the high cost of investing in environmentally friendly vehicles, Miami-Dade Transit has greatly expanded its fleet of advanced hybrid technology buses in just a year.
In April 2011, the department bought five diesel-electric Gillig buses that provide 32% more fuel efficiency. Officials set out a lofty goal — to have all 817 Metrobuses hybrid by 2018 — and they're well on their way more than a year later: The department now runs 43 eco-friendly buses and has saved 23% on its overall fuel consumption this year.
Miami-Dade Transit owns three types of hybrid buses: 25 60-foot-long New Flyer buses, 13 40-foot-long NABI buses and five 40-foot-long Gillig buses. They didn't come cheap: According to department spokeswoman Irene D. Ferradaz, the three types cost $830,560, $548,212 and $619,689, respectively.
The annual cost of running each bus is $45,780, $43,680 and $43,260, respectively. Ms. Ferradaz noted each diesel-hybrid bus costs about $200,000 more than the diesel buses. However, it's an investment the department is committed to seeing through, she said.
"The Department also wanted to stress to commuters that by using public transportation, they are making an eco-friendly decision, as taking a bus or rail is a green alternative to driving a car," she said.
The advanced hybrid technology on each bus features a beltless alternator. The alternator and engine fan pull power from a hybrid battery on the roof. Ms. Ferradaz said each hybrid bus reduces up to 30% in Carbon Dioxide, 50% in Nitrous Oxide and 90% in particulate matter, compared to a non-hybrid bus.
The eco-friendly switch hasn't come without setbacks, she noted. In addition to retraining the bus technicians on using the new hybrid technology, the department also alerted the local safety departments on the large number of volts on each hybrid bus.
"These additional volts mean that if a hybrid bus gets into an accident, it needs to be approached and handled more carefully than a regular diesel bus," Ms. Ferradaz said.
Miami-Dade was the first department in the country with such advanced transit technology. However, Ms. Ferradaz said, it's a standard agencies across the nation are striving for.
"Although there are no industry standards mandating transit agencies to have a certain number of hybrid vehicles in their fleet, the entire industry is moving toward more fuel-efficient hybrid or alternatively fueled buses," she said.
Additionally, the department is considering using Compressed Natural Gas for fuel and buying electric buses.
Ms. Ferradaz said Miami-Dade Transit is also in the process of converting mercury lamps with LED lights at 10 Metromover stations. Previous estimations placed savings from the LED lights at about $4,400 a year.
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