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Efficiency is in High Gear at MTA Bus Company

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The MTA Bus Company is well along the road to greening its operation through the incorporation of sustainable technology. Aside from the vital fact that MTA buses remove tens of thousands of cars from area streets and highways, the agency has been at the developmental forefront of technologies and practices intended to make municipal bus transportation as ecologically benign as possible.

Customers are already familiar with the agency's fleet of Hybrid-Electric buses. Currently, more than 360 hybrid buses are operating for MTA Bus Company-- buses that, on average, are 30 percent cleaner than their conventional diesel counterparts. Hybrids have also proven to be more fuel efficient with a clear advantage in the stop-and-go driving conditions seen throughout the New York metropolitan area.

While the hybrids are common sights on the streets these days, the technology is still evolving, particularly in the area of storage batteries. MTA Bus Company is currently testing Orion Hybrid/Electrics with a lithium-ion battery array in place of the lead-acid batteries. These lithium batteries have a longer life-span, the ability to capture more of the braking energy from the bus, and is much lighter, trimming about 3,200 pounds off the 4,000 pound weight of the lead-acid batteries.

In order to further increase the efficiency of the hybrids, MTA Bus Company has changed the propulsion management software to dial back the acceleration rate so that the bus consumes less fuel. As oil prices climb higher this becomes even more important.

Of course, in an agency as large as MTA Bus Company, the agency looks for improvements in all areas, including the recycling of usable parts from buses that are being retired. Bus Company President Joseph Smith has taken a hard look at how his department disposes of items. "In the past we had been scrapping our buses intact, but that makes little sense when we are still operating similar vehicles. An item as simple as a bus window costs upwards of $900.00 apiece. That's money we're saving by removing the windows from scrap buses and reusing them when needed," Smith explained.

Guided by a responsibility to the environment and the need to make more efficient use of funding, MTA Bus Company will continue to look hard to find savings in other areas as the agency continues to attract more riders. New battery technology and the recycling old bus parts are impressive, but it won't end there.