The wheels of the bus still go round and round, but what propels them is often quite different than even the means utilized in the recent past. Countries and cities around the world are making headlines with new bus designs and alternative energy sources. Still, the tried and true of diesel continues to dominate the roads globally, so wide inspections keep passengers, drivers, and others on the roadway safe. Here is a brief look at some of the more interesting news stories involving buses over the last several months in 2013.
U.S. Bus News
Starting close to home in the U.S., BusCon 2013 at Chicago’s Navy Pier introduced four electric vehicles from Phoenix Motorcars, BYD, Proterra, and Complete Coach Works (CCW). The possible applications for each bus are different, but the technology brought a lot of tire kickers and interested parties to the show floor.
The latest all-electric vehicle from Phoenix Motorcars travels up to 100 miles per charge and offers operators payback on their investment in up to three years compared to diesel. Reportedly perfect for airports or hotels, the 14-passenger Phoenix Electric shuttle is available in multiple configurations and can be customized to specifications.
The BYD 40-foot All-Electric Bus made its debut as it gets set for rollout in Long Beach Transit and the Los Angeles Metro sometime in early 2014. The CCW Utah Transit Authority 40-foot all-electric bus uses wireless advanced vehicle electrification (WAVE). The principle is that a charging pad attached to the bottom of the bus derives its power form induction pads placed strategically in the road along the route.
International Bus News
Down under in the city of Adelaide, Australia they have introduced the world’s first solar-powered electric bus that is recharged using 100 percent solar energy. Very quiet with zero emissions, the air-conditioned bus is recharged using a solar photovoltaic system installed at the Adelaide Central bus station. It also has a regenerative braking system that saves up to 30 percent of energy consumption. So far in more than 34,000 miles of service, the city has saved more than 4,000 gallons of diesel and reduced CO2 emissions by more than 150,000 pounds in its first year.
More than 73,023 truck and bus inspections over 72 hours is a lot in a short time, but that is what commercial vehicle inspectors accomplished across North America with the Roadcheck 2013 event in June. As reported by the Transport Topics newsletter, out-of-service rates fell to an all-time low during the event. The annual enforcement and safety outreach campaign is conducted by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA). The inspection event emphasized motorcoach safety, including traffic enforcement, as well as securement of cargo.
Roadcheck 2013 included special emphasis on motorcoaches. More than 10,000 CVSA and FMCSA inspectors participated at approximately 2,500 locations across North America during this year’s Roadcheck. The U.S., Canada, and Mexico participated with inspections occurring either at fixed or temporary inspection locations.
More bus news reports that the double-decker buses of London are getting far more than a facelift with The New Bus for London rolling out September through December of 2013. Inspired by the original double-decker Routemasters, the new buses are powered by a Cummins ISBe 4.5 liter engine and use state-of-the-art hybrid technology. The Cummins engine is connected to a Siemens hybrid transmission. The engine drives a generator, which supplies energy to a lithium-phosphate battery pack, which in turn provides electrical current for new electric drive motors.
The buses use Regenerative braking to feed otherwise wasted kinetic energy back into the battery pack from the electric motors. The end result is the most environmentally friendly bus of its kind, resulting in improved air quality and reduced carbon emissions. The sleek new design is intended to aid speedier and smoother boarding. The new are among 600 production buses due to enter service by 2016 as part of the Mayor’s election promise. The bus rollout is supported by funding from the UK Green Bus Fund promoting low carbon buses.
A recent bus news article in PV magazine talks about the flexible thin film solar cells the Polish city of Lublin installed on the roofs of its municipal buses in September of 2013. The city is working hard to reduce energy consumption and make public transport ‘greener’ with the solar panels. The solar energy is converted into electric energy and used to load the buses’ batteries. The resulting decreased alternator load will lower fuel consumption for greater economic and environmental gains. In fact, they estimate that savings will amount to 1,900 euro per bus per year with payback on the investment in a mere two years.