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MCI to Build Diesel-Hybrid Commuter Coaches for Houston METRO with Allison Hybrid System

Motor Coach Industries (MCI) has been awarded a contract by Houston METRO to provide 52 diesel-electric hybrid coaches, with options for a total of 142 units to be delivered to the transit agency.

The MCI hybrid.

MCI was the first intercity coach manufacturer to launch a public-sector commuter hybrid electric-diesel coach in 2002, and its coaches for Houston METRO will introduce hybrid technology that offers even lower emissions and greater fuel efficiency.

Five years ago, MCI delivered four D4000 (40-foot) prototype hybrid commuter coaches to New Jersey Transit. Still in operation, those coaches use MCI’s first-generation hybrid components with a Cummins/ISL engine and an Allison EP 50 electric-drive hybrid propulsion system.

MCI’s next-generation diesel-electric hybrids feature the company’s new-look D4500 (45-foot) model and use the latest low-emission clean-diesel engine technology from Cummins along with the Allison propulsion system. The engine and an advanced electric power management system offers performance that is comparable to a large diesel engine, but with improved fuel economy and reduced carbon emissions.

To further fuel conservation, Houston METRO’s new MCI coaches will also use shore power at the depot to activate the AC unit and cool the passenger cabin prior to departure, eliminating the reliance on engine idling.



I wonder if these hybrids will be used in the most effecive way possible, but I suspect they won't be. The experience of the NYC and CT transit agencies has been that hybrids acheive the greatest fuel and cost savings when they are used in the most demanding urban routes. Those are also the places in which emissions control is most essential.

Their virtues are less useful in a more suburban type of route. NJ Transit (mentioned in the article as running four prototype units) operates a large number of suburban and semi-suburban routes for commuters into NYC and Philly, and this bus appears to be built on a suburban-commuter design, not an urban routes design. Notice the single door, up front, instead of doors fore and aft, as well as the cargo lockers under the main seating area of the bus, implying a high-floor main cabin, which is ill-suited to rapid on-off urban applications.

At the same time, NJ Transit apparently said nothing to Houston METRO to dissuade them from buying these buses, and the shore power idea is kind of nifty, so I can't imagine it will be a total disaster. I just suspect it isn't an idea deployment of resources.

Is there a federal program somewhere throwing money at any transit agency which pledges to buy hybrid buses, no matter how good or mediocre a use they get? If so, it ought to be revised so that agencies with a serious number of demanding urban routes get to the top of the list, and only if they are actually going to use them in such routes.

richard schumacher

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tom deplume

I suspect someone put the wrong picture in the original article. Most PR people are science/engineering illiterates.

Wesley v

Can MCI build new green engine for old coach or can you upgrade old coach engine to greener ones

Wesley v

Can MCI build new green engine for old coach or can you upgrade old coach engine to greener ones

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