Clearing the Air with Hybrid Buses

By Durso, Fred, Jr. | E Magazine, May-June 2004 | Go to article overview

Clearing the Air with Hybrid Buses


Durso, Fred, Jr., E Magazine


The soot spewing from the exhaust pipes of diesel buses doesn't just look dirty, it is dirty, accounting for 20 percent of U.S. air pollution, says the Natural Resources Defense Council. Some forward-thinking transit agencies are fighting back with hybrid diesel-electric buses. New York City Transit (NYCT), for example, took the lead and purchased 10 prototype hybrid buses in 1998, helping clear the air in a metropolis with very poor air quality.

A Department of Energy (DOE) study reports that hybrid buses, combining a diesel engine with an electric motor, outperform regular diesel buses in a variety of categories, offering 10 percent higher fuel economy, 19 percent lower carbon dioxide emissions and a 97 percent reduction in carbon monoxide emissions.

"The days of the dirty diesel bus are numbered," says Dan Becker, director of Sierra Club's Global Warming and Energy Program. "The federal Clean Air Act requires states to reduce soot and smog emissions, and hybrids are a good way to do this."

Buoyed by the success of the prototypes, NYCT has ordered an additional 325 diesel-electric buses. Other states are following suit, including Washington, where Seattle's King County Metropolitan Transit Authority recently purchased 235 diesel hybrid buses. …

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