CDTA adds 21 more hybrid buses to fleet

The Capital District Transportation Authority has received 21 new electric-diesel hybrid buses, brin
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The Capital District Transportation Authority has received 21 new electric-diesel hybrid buses, bringing the total number of hybrids to about 20 percent of its bus fleet.

The 40-passenger buses use a roof-mounted battery system to supplement their diesel engines, allowing for better fuel mileage and fewer emissions — particle emissions are up to 90 percent less, according to CDTA. Energy from the braking system recharges the batteries.

Authority officials estimated around 1 million gallons of diesel will be saved over the 12-year expected life of a hybrid bus, compared to a conventionally powered bus. The hybrid buses get roughly five miles per gallon, about 30 percent better mileage than a conventional bus.

“CDTA is leading by example,” said U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, who is himself an energy policy expert and former head of the state energy research agency. “This has a tremendous favorable impact on the environment.”

The CDTA is pushing its use of hybrid buses as part of a “Looks Blue, Runs Green” campaign to appeal to the public to ride the bus for environmental as well as financial reasons.

Bus ridership was 15.4 million people last year, up 21 percent since 2006, said CDTA Executive Director Ray Melleady.

This is the third straight year CDTA has purchased hybrid buses. They can operate on battery power alone at low speeds and also operate on a blend of electric and diesel power.

The new buses were presented Monday at CDTA’s Albany maintenance facility during a ceremony attended by Tonko and senior state officials.

“If we as a state and nation are to reduce our carbon footprint, the public transit must play a greater role,” said Stanley Gee, acting state transportation commissioner, whose agency helped fund the buses.

CDTA now has 48 hybrids out of roughly 250 buses and expects to buy four more next year.

The 21 hybrid buses were purchased from Gillig Corp. of Hayward, Calif., for approximately $530,000 each — about $150,000 per bus more than conventional diesel buses. Federal and state grants covered the cost, including $1.7 million provided by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, the agency Tonko formerly headed, specifically to offset the additional cost of hybrid vehicles.

Statewide, NYSERDA has now contributed to the purchase of about 550 hybrid mass-transit vehicles, said NYSERDA President Francis J. Murray Jr.

Melleady said the hybrids will be seen throughout the area served by CDTA, which covers Albany, Schenectady, Saratoga and Rensselaer counties.

When a new rapid transit initiative starts in the Central Avenue corridor between Schenectady and Albany next year, all the buses on it will be hybrid, officials said.

Categories: Schenectady County

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