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LA Metro to Buy 194 CNG and 6 Gasoline-Electric Hybrid Buses

The Los Angeles Metro Board of Directors authorized the purchase of 200 new buses, six of them gasoline-electric series-hybrids for testing, the other CNG-fueled.

The bus procurements will cost more than $100 million although the final purchase price will be determined once bids for the largest block of coaches are received.

The new CNG bus purchases will include 94 60-foot articulated coaches and 100 45-foot coaches.

The gasoline-electric hybrids will be the New Flyer coach using the ISE-Thundervolt hybrid drive with Ford Triton 6.8-liter V10 gasoline engine and Siemens electric drive with dual 85 kW motors. (Earlier post.)

The gasoline-electric hybrids—which are also in use in Long Beach—can operate on battery power alone for 5–15 miles and in emergency situations. Regenerative braking recaptures up to 30% of daily operating energy.

The gasoline hybrid delivers approximately 4.5 mpg—about 30% better than the 3.5 mpg of a standard diesel—and substantially reduces emissions over a conventional diesel bus.

Emissions and Fuel Economy Comparisons for the New Flyer Gasoline-Electric Hybrid

The Metro board is purchasing the small number of hybrids for operational testing in Metro’s heavy-duty environment. As an August memo to the Board from the Advanced Transit Vehicle Consortium noted:

A gasoline powered hybrid bus will meet 2007 emissions regulations, and serve as a stepping-stone to 2010 zero emission vehicles.

[...] Metro will be much better served in the long run to identify any potential technology weaknesses with this test than to forge ahead blindly into a large scale purchase. This purchase would also give Metro hands-on experience with developmental hybrid technologies that may be necessary to meet future emission requirements, and at the same time realize savings from purchasing options without the need for a negotiated or RFP procurement.

LA Metro has been operating under a consent decree signed in 1996 that requires it to expand and upgrade its bus operations. The court agreement resulted from a lawsuit brought by community groups that accused the agency of favoring rail projects in wealthier areas over bus service in poorer ones.

With these latest procurements, Metro will exceed recent orders by a special master who oversees a federal Consent Decree for improving Metro Bus service. In the past two years, Washington, D.C. lawyer Donald Bliss has ordered Metro to buy buses with seating equivalent to 660 new 40-foot buses (26,400 total passenger seats). Including recent procurements, Metro is buying the equivalent of 730 standard buses (29,198 seats).

Altogether, Metro has purchased more than 2,000 new buses since the Consent Decree was signed nine years ago. Los Angeles Metro operates the 3rd largest transit fleet in the country, behind only New York City Transit and New Jersey Transit.


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