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San Francisco approves purchase of 45 new hybrid electric buses

The Board of Directors of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), which oversees all transportation in the city, including the Municipal Railway (Muni), recently approved the purchase of 45 new hybrid electric 40-foot buses from New Flyer Industries. These new vehicles will replace 13-year-old buses currently in service.

Pending final approval from the Board of Supervisors, the SFMTA expects to have a prototype on the road next winter for a month long test in regular passenger service. All 45 new buses are expected to arrive by the end of summer 2013.

In order to expedite the purchasing process, the SFMTA joined a current, competitively bid vehicle contract with the State of Minnesota. The vehicles specified under the Minnesota contract were updated to include features necessary for San Francisco’s unique operating environment and high passenger loads. The total vehicle cost will be approximately $33.8 million or $752,000 per vehicle and is funded through federal, state, and local support.

The SFMTA is pursuing replacement and rehabilitation programs on all buses, light rail vehicles, and historic streetcars. Within the next two years, SFMTA expects to purchase 60 articulated trolley buses to replace current 20-year-old vehicles. These programs directly support the agency’s two-year budget, focusing on maintenance and infrastructure improvements.



Articulated hybrid or e-buses, to reduce the number of progressively very costly ($122K/year/each) unionized drivers by 50% would be a wise decision.

Currently, over the normal life (15 years) of a city bus, the drivers cost (5 x $122K x 15) = $9,150,000 or about 12 times the initial cost of the bus. Articulated buses can reduce that cost by almost 50%.

Another advantage is that frequency and city streets traffic load and pollution are also reduced.

Ideally, bus operators could do like airlines. Use smaller feeder buses to bring passengers to/from hubs and larger articulated buses from hub to hub.


Harvey, I'm not sure that passengers would agree that less frequent buses are desirable...

Here in Philly, we have some hybrid buses and one of the huge advantages of them, besides the obvious one of consuming less fuel, is that they are much quieter on start-up. The old buses take a lot of power to get moving from a stand-still after stopping to pick up passengers or just at a stop sign where there's no bus stop. Some of them are horrifyingly loud. The hybrids make roughly 1/4 as much noise. If you're sitting at a sidewalk cafe at a corner trying to have a conversation, this difference is very noticeable and very much appreciated.

Dave R

In many parts of San Francisco, they are using trolley buses (buses powered by overhead lines) which are very quiet compared to their diesel/nat-gas counterparts.

Drawback of course is having to maintain the overhead lines...


We used to have those in Philly and we used to have a lot of trolleys with tracks too. We still have some trolleys with tracks and one trolley line that was recently restored, but mostly we have buses. The upfront infrastructure cost is a lot less. The main problem with buses in Philly is that the buses get through traffic very slowly. Biking is often faster, and for shorter distances, walking is faster. There are various ways to speed up buses, some of which have been implemented in other cities. I'm no expert on that topic, but if somebody could figure out how to speed up the buses in Philly it would make a lot of people happier.

Henry Gibson

Hydraulic hybrids could save half the fuel at far lower costs. ..HG..


E-buses are a great idea in Fan Fran. The hills are murder on the power curve of an IC engine but electric motors can chug on through that like a champion.


San Fran rather

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