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San Francisco MUNI to Get 56 Diesel-Electric Hybrid Buses

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (MUNI) has accepted the first of 56 diesel-electric hybrid Orion VII low floor buses from DaimlerChrysler Commercial Buses. The new bus is California’s first series production diesel-electric hybrid bus in transit service.

After the official roll-out in fall 2006, San Francisco will feature the third-largest hybrid bus fleet in the country.

The selection of new diesel-electric hybrid buses capped an effort that began with MUNI’s Alternative Fuel Pilot Program of 2001-2003. Thereafter, MUNI worked extensively with the California Air Resources Board to obtain changes in the regulations, unanimously adopted in 2006, that enabled the acquisition of these buses.

The Orion VII hybrid bus, powered by BAE Systems’ HybriDrive series propulsion technology, has logged more than 10 million in-service miles in highly demanding cities such as New York and Toronto.

The Orion VII series-hybrid buses with the BAE HybriDrive combine a 5.9-liter, 260 hp (194 kW) Cummins ULSD (Ultra Low-Sulfur Diesel) engine with a 120 kW traction generator. The electric traction motor delivers 250 hp (186 kW) and 2,700 lb-ft (3,657 Nm) of low-end torque.

A study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory found that the Orions in service in New York City—the largest fleet—achieve up to 45% better fuel economy compared to conventional diesel buses. Additionally, the Orion VII greatly reduces emissions: 90% less particulate matter, 40% less NOx, and 30% fewer greenhouse gases. (Earlier post.)

After the delivery of the full order, electric-hybrid buses will constitute 11% of MUNI’s bus fleet. In conjunction with other buses such as trolleys, MUNI will then feature an electric fleet of well over 50%.

DaimlerChrysler Commercial Buses North America combines three bus brands under one corporate structure: Orion transit buses, Setra motor-coaches, and the Dodge Sprinter shuttle bus.


allen zheng

With hybrid buses comming online in transit systems, they are reducing operational costs, and getting their balance sheets less in the red. This may mean less public subsidies may be needed to run transit systems in the future. Either that or fewer rate hikes.

hampden wireless

Thats alot of torque! I wont go so far as to say 'fun to drive' but even in a vehicle that size I bet it feels fast from the start.

Love to see the long term savings in brakes and other maintenence parts. The diesel engine is still a bit big and not suited to the application but its a start. Even in a large bus they could probobly use a 150hp or less engine for generator unless they expect the bus to climb mountains.


I'm assuming that Hampden has never driven in S.F., which is famous for its steep roads ;) .


Lets just hope they are not as foolish as the Puget Sound, King County, and Snohomish County metro systems in Washington state. They bought several hybrid diesel electric buses and proceeded to put them to work on express routes with lots of highway driving (and then complained that fuel savings didn't meet their expectations...)

allen zheng

Ditto, hybrid buses are meant to roam the city streets. However, getting a better bost/aerodynamics at higher speeds may improve fuel efficiency at high speed in the future.

Hampden Wireless

I have driven in SF and a hybrid bus even with a small engine would climb fine as long as the battery pack was properly sized.

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