Monday, July 12, 2004


The Daily Local News ran a story on Saturday highlighting SEPTA's purchase of 32 diesel-electric hybrid buses:

The Federal Transit Administration recently approved a $589,999 grant for SEPTA to add to its fleet of hybrid buses.

The buses are rotated throughout the system, and they will run in service areas that include Chester County, said Jim Whitaker, SEPTA spokesman.

I must have missed that part, considering all 32 hybrids are being assigned to Southern.

"We’re testing the system to see how it works in this area," he said.

Of SEPTA’s 1,300 buses, 12 of them are hybrid. The grant will provide partial funding for the purchase of 20 additional hybrid buses, said Whitaker.

SEPTA has had hybrid diesel and electric buses for two years, he said.

The hybrid buses cost $520,000 apiece, said Whitaker, while the diesel buses run $320,000 each.

SEPTA is gauging the economic efficiency of the buses to determine if savings in fuel costs and in engine wear and tear justify the more expensive purchase price, he said.

The buses have been run on long and short loops to see how well they hold up on varying route lengths, but no significant differences have been found, said Whitaker.

Other than the cost, he said SEPTA has found no disadvantage in using the hybrid buses.

The first of the new buses are expected to arrive at the end of this month.

There have been reports that at least one of the 5831H-5850H buses is already on the property.

"When we get the additional 20," said Whitaker, "we’ll have the best fleet of hybrid buses in the country for awhile."

I'm sure Seattle will have something to say about that after they get their 200+ hybrid artics, but for now, that's a fairly accurate statement. Especially when there have been comments on other message boards regarding how problem plagued New York City's Orion VII hybrid buses have been.

U.S. Sens. Arlen Specter, [R in name only-Pa. - ed.], and Rick Santorum, R-Pa., issued a joint statement to announce the funding.

"I am pleased that SEPTA will invest this funding in providing cleaner, more efficient public transportation for Southeast Pennsylvania," said Santorum. "As technology advances it is important that we use modern research to develop environmentally friendly products that also lessen our reliance on natural resources which are becoming increasingly scarce."

"Public transportation is vital to growth and quality of life in the Philadelphia area," Specter said. "I am pleased to see SEPTA employing this innovative and environmentally conscious technology on their bus operations, ensuring riders have the most advanced public transportation system available."

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