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Metro Newsroom


Tuesday September 21, 2004

On September 21, TARC will unveil the first of its new hybrid-electric buses. This innovative new technology uses electric power in combination with a diesel-powered engine. The system on the five new TARC buses will have many benefits: Improved air quality, better fuel economy, less maintenance and a quieter ride. It is the first step in TARC’s efforts to reach new standards of cleaner air.

“I’m excited about showcasing this innovative technology,” said TARC Executive Director J. Barry Barker. “We will see improved fuel efficiency, less pollution and quieter rides. TARC’s mission not only to provide exemplary customer service, but also to be good stewards of the community’s resources, including our air quality. TARC is grateful for the funds from our state and federal partners and for the corporate expertise that have made it possible to move with full confidence to this hybrid-electric technology.”

The buses will have the same body style as the traditional TARC buses, but with a bright design and the “Breathe easier” slogan. They are 40 feet long and have low-floor access. They cost about $470,000 each and were purchased with a $3 million federal grant secured by U. S. Rep. Anne Northup. The first three hybrids will begin service on Oct. 1 with two others to follow by the end of October. The buses will be used on various regular routes and for special services, beginning with the shuttle service from the PARC garage on Third and Broadway to the St. James Court Art Show.
The new buses will save TARC thousands of dollars annually because they have 25 percent better fuel economy than a conventional urban transit bus diesel system, with an annual savings of about 3,000 gallons per bus. The new buses should exhibit up to 50 percent better acceleration compared to those equipped with a conventional diesel power train.

Along with the new technology, TARC has also switched its entire fleet to ultra-low sulfur fuel, which in itself can result in a reduction of roughly 10 percent in particulate matter and hydrocarbon emissions. The combination of ultra-low sulfur fuel with hybrid electric technology will help TARC’ new buses see reductions as high as 50 percent for oxides of nitrogen (NOX) and 70 percent for particulate matter (PM). BP’s ultra low sulfur diesel is a specially formulated fuel produced in advance of federal standards for diesel fuels set to take effect in 2006.

Hybrid systems use two sources of power to move a vehicle – diesel engine and electric power. In the parallel hybrid system, the engine and transmission work in combination to furnish electrical power to keep the battery charged and move the bus. The bus accelerates from a stop under 100 percent electrical power and uses a diesel and electrical power blend to maintain speed after the vehicle is underway. It also converts the energy from braking into electrical power and stores it in an energy storage unit (battery), making it unnecessary to ever plug the vehicle in for charging.

The TARC hybrids are manufactured by Gillig Corp. in Hayward, California. The propulsion system is manufactured by Allison Transmission GM, of Indianapolis.