Green Update–>London Gets Slick New Hybrid Buses

New London bus

Car lovers sometimes forget that we’re all in the transportation business. Urban dwellers don’t, and more cities around the world are adopting hybrid buses for their fleets. Hybrids have been part of the London scene for at least five years. Now, the city has chosen a final design to replace the classic old Routemaster double-deckers that were retired in 2005.

It’s a big deal, because “the new design uses the latest in green hybrid technology and will be 15% more fuel efficient than existing hybrid buses, 40% more efficient than conventional diesel double decks, and much quieter on the streets.” This per Inhabitat, which goes on to say that, compared to conventional diesel buses, nitrogen oxide emissions will be down by 40 percent and particulate matter emissions by 33 percent.

The design is respectful of the old Routemaster yet makes its own dramatic statement. Check out the video after the break (the pictures are better than the blah-blah).

The Heatherwick bus will be on the streets by 2012. It has two conventional doors plus an open platform in back, permitting people to hop on and off, and two staircases inside, and it will cost $420,000 apiece. (That price sounds way too cheap to me.)

San Francisco and other U.S. cities have invested heavily in hybrid buses. In 2007 S.F. bought into a fleet of 86 Daimler-Chrysler (yes, that company) “muni hybrid buses,” powered by a small (5.9 liter) Cummins diesel with “traction batteries” and motors. The buses cost about $500,000. The cost premium ($150,000) over a conventional bus should be made up by considerable savings in operating costs, says the city.

Are the buses really all that green? Well, says the Union of Concerned Scientists, yes… and no. Natural gas-powered buses are much cheaper, but require a fueling and maintenance infrastructure that hybrids do not. Hybrid fuel economy, as of 2007, is “all over the map,” but a great number of U.S. cities, small and large, are going the hybrid bus route.

London has had its problems with these buses, but is clearly committed to policies that will cut emissions by 25 percent over the next 6 to 7 years. From 2012 on, all its 8,000 buses will be running on hybrid power.

Do you know whether your city is using hybrid buses? Have they been successful, do you think?

—jgoods

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2 Comments

  1. Oh, my God! Now we are Car and Driver revisited?? Like them, next you be testing and commenting on garbage trucks, speedboats, and scooters. Have you no shame, CARgurus???

  2. Boston has a few of the 25 double-long articulated hybrid buses it plans to use on the roads now, but I haven’t ridden one yet. Ours apparently cost $915K each. They apparently produce a *lot* less nitrogen dioxide and get ~40-60% better mileage than the diesel and natural gas buses they replaced.

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