TransLink, the transit agency for the greater Vancouver, British Columbia area, is running a set of concurrent tests with hybrid, CNG and B20 biodiesel buses to determine the most suitable and cost-effective technology for the region.
TransLink and Coast Mountain Bus Co. will measure fuel consumption, service calls, emissions, acceleration, braking, hill climbing ability, and noise. Operating costs, capital costs, maintenance requirements, staff training, and life-cycle costs will also be calculated.
Five pairs of buses will be included in the first phase of testing, beginning this month:
Two GM-Allison parallel diesel-hybrid buses.
Two CNG buses powered by Cummins C Gas Plus engines
Two diesel buses burning a B20 biodiesel blend.
Two diesel buses burning ultra low-sulfur diesel (ULSD, 15 ppm sulfur versus 500 ppm) and equipped with diesel particulate filters (DPF).
Two conventional diesel buses—representing the newest in the fleet—as the baseline for comparison.
All five types of technology will be tested during regular revenue service for up to 23 hours a day. The test buses will alternate between eight bus routes. Customers will have a chance to ride the buses and tell us what they think through onboard surveys.
In addition to testing the buses in regular service, TransLink will also conduct controlled off-road tests. M.J. Bradley and Associates—a consulting firm specializing in emissions programs—designed the testing protocol and will oversee the project, while Environment Canada will provide the emissions testing.
Phase one of the bus demonstration project will last until April of 2006.
In the second phase of the project, TransLink will expand its testing, adding series hybrid buses using the BAE Systems drive system (i.e., the Orion series hybrids purchased by New York, Toronto and San Francisco). In addition, buses using upgraded C Gas Plus engines and a blended fuel of recycled hydrogen and compressed natural gas (HCNG) will be tested. The Government of Canada is providing financial support for the HCNG buses through the Integrated Waste Hydrogen Utilization Project.
Translink expects to purchase more than 1,000 buses over the next eight years.