Back to buses (sort of)

(Thanks to Peter Folger, bus nerd extraordinaire, for these links.)

Despite their high costs (approximately 60% more than diesel models), hybrid buses are becoming a popular choice for North American transit agencies:

DaimlerChrysler, whose Orion brand has close to a 60 per cent market share, estimates that, based on existing orders, the number of hybrid buses on US and Canadian streets will grow by three-quarters over the next year from 1,200 to 2,100.

“They’re selling very well,” says Brian Macleod, senior vice-president at Gillig, a Californian bus manufacturer.

Since Gillig began commercial production of hybrid buses in 2005, these models have grown to a fifth of its output. By contrast, hybrids make up less than 1.5 per cent of US car and light-truck sales.

According to the article, hybrids are ideal for the kind of stop-and-go driving that buses do, since braking charges the battery.

Speaking of hybrids…

A Japanese rail manufacturer is working on a bus/train combo vehicle:

JR Hokkaido, a Japanese rail firm, is poised to fully launch its dual-mode bus and rail vehicle. The bus-train has both rubber and steel tires, allowing it to switch between regular roads and railroad tracks with ease.

Apparently, the operating costs for these cars are significantly lower than for other types of rail cars. The intention is to use them for lines that have low daily ridership.

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