Metro Transit’s super-hybrid buses – dubbed the cleanest hybrid-electric buses in the United States – were recently featured in a KFAI radio segment.
Introduced at the Minnesota State Fair in 2012, Metro Transit’s two Xcelsior buses are unique among transit providers and can operate in all-electric mode for short intervals — such as when idling at bus stops or traffic lights, within garages or potentially while operating on Nicollet Mall. Systems such as the air compressor, power steering and air conditioning systems run directly off battery power, saving additional fuel and further reducing emissions.
Jan Homan, deputy chief operating officer for buses, tells KFAI that the Xcelsior buses get around 35 percent better fuel economy than traditional diesel-fueled buses. Metro Transit’s standard hybrid buses get around 25 percent better fuel economy than diesel-only buses.
Metro Transit’s two Next Generation hybrid buses were purchased with a $1.2 million federal grant and were manufactured by New Flyer Industries in St. Cloud. Components from several Minnesota companies are also included in the buses.
KFAI rode the bus along Route 10, which runs on Nicollet and Central avenues between downtown Minneapolis and Blaine. A customer interviewed in the piece said he feels as if he’s 'riding on air' when the engine stops – a common feeling for Xcelsior passengers.
“You notice once in a while it just shuts down and I think everybody is thinking ‘We’re going to have to get off and get on another bus,’” Homan told KFAI. “Well, no, it’s actually operating the way it should.”
Update, Sept. 16, 2013: Metro Transit's super-hybrids were featured in a Midwest Energy News story highlighting new efforts to better understand fuel efficiency in Metro Transit buses. The University of Minnesota's two-year study seeks to determine which engine components offer the greatest potential for efficiency and provide more insights on how routes, climate and customer loads impact fuel use.
> KFAI: Metro Transit’s super-hybrid bus cleanest in the nation
> CTS Catalyst: Advanced hybrid buses have better fuel economy, fewer emissions
> Midwest Energy News: Research seeks best bang-for-buck on bus efficiency
> Metro Transit vehicles go greener