Archive for Thursday, August 11, 2011

City adds 3 hybrid diesel-electric buses to public transit fleet

One of three new hybrid-diesel buses for the T was on a training run Thursday, August 11, 2011. The new eco-transit vehicles will be put into service on bus route 11 on August 22.

August 11, 2011


One of three new hybrid-diesel buses for Lawrence Transit was on a training run Thursday, August 11, 2011. The new eco-transit vehicles will be put in to service on bus route 11 on August 22.

One of three new hybrid-diesel buses for Lawrence Transit was on a training run Thursday, August 11, 2011. The new eco-transit vehicles will be put in to service on bus route 11 on August 22.

Lawrence’s newest green experiment is under way.

Three new hybrid diesel-electric buses joined Lawrence’s public transit fleet Thursday. The 40-foot buses operate similarly to a hybrid car — a bank of batteries largely power the machine when it is operating at low speeds, while the diesel engine recharges the batteries and helps the bus operate at higher speeds.

The end results, city leaders hope, are significant reductions in fuel costs, maintenance costs and pollution.

“I think compared to the old buses that we have been running, the results are going to be off of this planet,” said Robert Nugent, the city’s public transit administrator.

Nugent and several trade journals estimated that the fuel savings from hybrid-electric buses were between 30 percent to 60 percent, depending on how the buses are used.

City Commissioner Mike Dever, who pushed the city to order the buses in late 2009, said there will be noticeable differences in places other than the fuel pump.

“I think it is going to be a lot more pleasant experience for anyone who ends up being behind one of these buses,” Dever said. “They’re going to smell better.”

The buses are expected to reduce carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon emissions by up to 90 percent. In addition to having a smaller diesel engine that emits less fumes, Nugent said the buses are equipped with a secondary emissions cleaning system that improves the quality of emissions.

But the buses do come with an extra cost. The buses cost about $600,000 — or about $250,000 more than a standard bus. The city received about $1.8 million in federal stimulus dollars in 2009 that allowed the buses to be purchased without any local funding.

“That allowed us to feel a lot more comfortable about giving these a try,” Dever said.

Now the city will track the performance of the buses to determine whether they are living up to expectations. Among some of the benefits the city expects to see are:

• Brakes on the bus are expected to last significantly longer because the buses are equipped with special “resistive transmissions.” Those transmissions function like a brake anytime the driver lets off the accelerator.

“We spend a lot on replacing brakes every year,” Nugent said. “We operate at an average speed of about 10 to 12 miles per hour, so that tells you how often we’re stopping.”

• Easier entry. The buses have an air suspension system that allows the bus to drop to about eight inches off the ground when stopped. That will eliminate the need for a special hydraulic lift to assist people in wheelchairs. Instead, people with disabilities will be able to use a ramp that extends out from the bus.

• Quieter motors. The buses will not be as quiet as a hybrid car, but they will be quieter than the average diesel bus, Nugent said. The diesel engine in the bus will run at all times to power accessories and to help keep the batteries charged. But the engine is smaller than a traditional diesel engine.

Transit leaders put the three buses out on the streets Thursday for training purposes. They’ll start hauling passengers on Aug. 22. The buses likely will be used on Route No. 11, which serves downtown, the Kansas University campus, and the area around 31st and Iowa streets.

The new buses replace three models that the city has had since 2001.


larrytdog 6 years, 10 months ago

Why is this city run by Mike Dever's nose? He didn't like the way portable toilets smelled in the KU Football embroglio last fall, now he doesn't like the way buses smell. Please somebody send a respirator or some nose plugs to City Hall for crying out loud.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 6 years, 10 months ago

No wonder the city, county and state are broke.

Tim Quest 6 years, 10 months ago

How many more miles must these new, inexplicably full-size buses drive to save a cent on fuel and make up for the extra $250,000 cost?

In a transit system consisting of depressingly empty vans, who the hell decided that the city needs full-size buses? They couldn't even fill the minibuses they used to have.

doc1 6 years, 10 months ago

It gets worse. The maintenance cost is 83% higher and to replace those lithium ion batteries costs $13,000 dollars. Those batteries will only last about 6 years in ideal conditions.

gr 6 years, 10 months ago

Not many facts given here, except that they expect to save 30-60% and the buses cost $250K more. I messed up on my first calculation and thought it was 250K more for the whole fleet, but believe that means per bus!

Here's my calculations: G = Total cost of gas spent.

G * .30 = $250K G = $833K, total cost of gas at 30% savings.

G * .60 = $250K G = $417K, total cost of gas at 60% savings.

Spending $417,000 on gas for the whole fleet of buses for 10 years could maybe be reasonable. But, this is for one bus.

How long do they plan on keeping any one bus?
How long have they kept any one bus in the past before wanting a new improved one for "all the savings"?

What is the probability that any one bus will have $417,000 spent in gas before they get rid of it?

How much will be saved? Keep in mind, this is the break even cost.

Divide the total cost per ride and how much does it really cost to ride the bus?

Remember, you the taxpayer and voter is supporting this.

--------------- Vote them out! -----------------

Flap Doodle 6 years, 10 months ago

I'm sure both riders of the T will appreciate the extra hundreds of thousands of dollars whizzed away for their benefit.

KS 6 years, 10 months ago

Do folks actually ride those things? Everytime I see them they are empty.

xclusive85 6 years, 10 months ago

Yep, and the students ride for free with their KU id. Also, many of the routes get full because the KU buses are running some of those routes, not the city buses.

Steve Tramba 6 years, 10 months ago

Is there not a part of tuition that contributes a small percentage to the T? So while incredibly affordable, all students pay a little bit for it whether they use it or not... or am I wrong - seems like I paid $ here & there for such things even 20 years ago. What a bunch of whiners & complainers- everyone must have their own car to get around Larryville in that's complaining.

gr 6 years, 10 months ago

Yep, all pay for the benefit of the few. What do you call that type of system?

Which means, that if all students were to ride, to benefit from their forced charge, the system would not work.

jafs 6 years, 10 months ago

All pay, and all can use the system if they choose, or need to do so.

it's called a public transportation system.

Other systems that work similarly - fire, police, emergency services.

gr 6 years, 10 months ago

jafs, explain how if all did use the system, the cost would be the same?

Because, since all are not using the system, where does all that excess money go?

It just won't work if all did use it. It only can work by not all using, but all paying.

jafs 6 years, 10 months ago

I never said that.

Public transportation systems work on a combination of tax dollars and fare collections. Even the best ones, the ones that are well designed and heavily used, only collect about 50% of necessary revenue from fare collections.

Ours would work better if more people used, and paid fares when using, the system. But it wouldn't change the tax subsidies much, in my understanding, some of which are federal taxes as well.

It would, though, make the system better in environmental terms, if it took more cars off of the road, and it would be good if more people could use the system.

jafs 6 years, 10 months ago

Fire, police, and emergency systems are similar.

If they're more heavily used, then we have to pay more in tax dollars for the services, whether we use those services much or not.

gr 6 years, 10 months ago

jafs, I don't know you are saying you didn't say.

Whether fairs are collected or not doesn't change that all are charged, but not all can use it.

Fire, police, and emergency systems are NOT similar. They are supposed to serve as an emergency/contingency/insurance type of service. They ARE designed for all to pay but not all to use. True, just like those, the bus system is set up so that any one individual can make use of it, but not ALL can. Maybe you are saying we are all paying for the bus system to serve for those emergency measure times when our car breaks or something. It might be useful to some, but at what a cost!

To help you out, please explain how it would even be possible for all of Lawrence to use the bus system? Or even all of KU as far as that goes. Tell us how that could even be possible without increasing the charges even more and buying many, many, more buses?

jafs 6 years, 10 months ago


So what you're trying to say is that if everybody used the bus system, we'd need a lot more buses?

That doesn't fit well with the often repeated observation that the buses are usually empty.

If that's true, then certainly a lot more people could use them before we'd need to buy any more buses.

The point of a public transportation system is that it's available to all citizens, not just a select few.

You're right about the fire, etc. in one sense, but wrong in another - those services are available to all citizens, just as the public transportation system is. If they are more heavily used, then we'd need to pay more into those systems, just as you claim for the bus system.

gr 6 years, 10 months ago

Just because fewer people than capacity are using something doesn't mean that all could use it. It doesn't mean the capacity could include all. Just because a lot more could use them than are using them, doesn't mean that all could use them.

It is available for all, but only can a few use them. Not all can use them.

Again, fire, etc. are designed NOT to be used by all. If they were, you would have to pay more. Which emphasizes my point. They all are designed for all to pay and only a few to benefit. It CANNOT work for all who pay to able to benefit. Other than for peace of mind.

The difference between fire, etc. is that those are insurance against disaster and the ideal situation is that none would need use of them. ALL must pay (and some would disagree with the system) hoping that NONE would need them. Can you say the same about the bus system?

It's not insurance against disaster. It's not an emergency situation. It's not something people would choose to pay for hoping they would not need it. It's not a peace of mind to have buses you do not use.

gl0ck0wn3r 6 years, 10 months ago

Subtract out the student riders and it's pretty unsustainable. Merging the systems was a brilliant political move to make the T look as if it is actually used. Most of the riders are on campus, but the T can claim them as system users now.

jafs 6 years, 10 months ago

I agree that using students to bolster ridership, when they're allowed to ride for free, is misleading at best.

But, even the best (well designed and heavily used) public transportation systems only get about 50% of needed revenue from fare collections.

DillonBarnes 6 years, 10 months ago

Actually, students pay $68.15 per semester for a "Campus Transportation Fee." So that's $136 per year, and an additional $34.10 if they take summer classes.

I wouldn't call that free.

jafs 6 years, 10 months ago

Doesn't that money go to KU?

And, isn't it about the same as it was before they were allowed to use their KU passes on city buses?

If so, the city is getting no money from KU students who ride on city buses - ie. those rides are "free".

DillonBarnes 6 years, 10 months ago

Yes and No. Admittedly, I don't know the financial breakdown of all this, but, the KU buses now serve the larger Lawrence community also, making transit for everyone easier. Routes are more available for the community and KU students alike. The city and KU share costs of certain things, to become more efficient. The fact that KU buses can now be used by non-students means that some of that money is coming out of student's pockets. Is it a dollar for dollar trade, probably not, but still not free.

Prior to this, student bus passes were optional and you could not ride either bus for free without the pass. I don't know if students received a discounted rate on the Lawrence Transit before the change, but it wasn't free.

jafs 6 years, 10 months ago

I'm still not clear on it.

When city residents ride KU buses, don't they have to pay for those rides?

It sounds muddy at best.

DillonBarnes 6 years, 10 months ago

Sure, city residents pay a bus fare all the same, $1 for full fare, $0.50 for reduced fare, or a bus pass to ride any bus, KU or T.

Students pay a one time flat rate to ride a bus, KU or T. Probably a good deal for some students, wasted money for many others.

Like I said before, I can't speak fully for the financial connection between the city and KU. Benefits both systems and the community at large. Is it a financial benefit for the city, not sure.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 6 years, 10 months ago

A large percentage of that ridership number is from the free passes they give the customers of Hendersons flop house.

We are not at all getting the bang for our buck on this money pit of a transit system.

TheOriginalCA 6 years, 10 months ago

"....Lawrence: A University with a town in it to help pay the bills....."

That hits the nail on the head puts it better than I have ever heard it or seen it.

Progressive_Kansan 6 years, 10 months ago

Way to go Lawrence! What a great step in the right direction.

snitty 6 years, 10 months ago

I, for one, am very glad to see Lawrence get these quieter, more fuel-efficient buses.

lunacydetector 6 years, 10 months ago

big kansas city type inner city busses for lil' ol' lawrence, ks, an island of extravagance.....and the ridership increased dramatically when the city bought the satellite parking busses for the k.u. students.

corduroypants 6 years, 10 months ago

Honest question - why don't they sell advertising on these? Is there no market for it? Seems like an easy way to generate revenue.

Ralph Reed 6 years, 10 months ago

Disregarding the usual naysayers, I think this is a great thing; a step in the right direction. As a note, the stimulus $ wasn't all intended for jobs, some of it went to other areas. In this case, public transporation.

We use the T when we can and plan to use it more when we retire. I'm glad it's here. Have any of you naysayers used the T on a regular basis?

Cant_have_it_both_ways 6 years, 10 months ago

It warms my heart to know I, along with others, get to pay for your transportation. Would you like to pay for a hooker for me?

jafs 6 years, 10 months ago

That's a little too much information you're revealing about yourself there, isn't it?

Ralph Reed 6 years, 10 months ago

@corduroypants. I second your question. Most of the advertising is public service messages. Some money could be made from allowing advertising in and on the buses.

Random56 6 years, 10 months ago

How is maintenance reduced compared to regular deisel powered bus? From my experience the more complex someting is the harder it is to diagnose the problem and fix it (especially if it has 2 power sources not just 1). Don't the batteries only last 8-10 years, and that is one of the most expensive additions to the new technology. I think the added maintenance will cancel out the fuel savings.

doc1 6 years, 10 months ago

Batteries on hybrids last about 75% of their projected life. Batteries for these buses are $13,000. Yes thats not a typo. Thirteen thousand dollars for lithium ion batteries for these buses.

gl0ck0wn3r 6 years, 10 months ago

Don't forget all the pollution created making lithium ion batteries. Green solutions aren't all that green.

Random56 6 years, 10 months ago

So where does the added cost come from? The smaller deisel engine can't cost $233,000 more than a regular motor. Something fishy is going on here.

Random56 6 years, 10 months ago

Lawrence loves to spend money so maybe it's a good

imastinker 6 years, 10 months ago

Calling this a hybrid seems dishonest.

This is a electric bus with an undersized diesel generator. It has a battery bank to assist in acceleration when the motors require more power than the generator can provide.

It probably will smell better, although not because it's a "hybrid." If it does it will be because of the downstream filtration and emissions equipment on this.

I would be really curious to see what kind of fuel savings there are. Diesels are pretty efficient all through the power band, and putting a 150hp diesel that runs at 50% hp isn't going to offer much of a savings over a 300hp diesel that runs at 25%.

gccs14r 6 years, 10 months ago

If the diesel engine isn't connected to the drive wheels, it's a Series Hybrid.

imastinker 6 years, 10 months ago

After rereading the article you may be right. I remember it talking about the transmission, but the use of that term seems a lot like slang or a marketing term that may not mean anything at all.

pace 6 years, 10 months ago

Students ride for free, Free because they pay through a student fee program rather than every time they get on the bus. Damn them, bulk payers. they don't count if they don't pay in the old fashion way, like my daddy. No one is on the buses, except people who don't count because if they ride the bus they don't count. The students gong to high school or college don't count because they are students. The elderly don't count, the kids going to work don't count, people going to shops don't count, going to the doctor or dentist don't count, because to count you have to have a car and drive it, goll darn it.. Spin it, a good spin is even better than a fair and reasoned argument, easier too, you don't have to use your noggin if your mouth is moving. It is good enough for the tea-party, it is good enough to present as excuse for your ranting hate based faith. Is anti bus, anti education, anti health care reform, anti jobs spins part of the revised commandments of the new hate based faith?

Cant_have_it_both_ways 6 years, 10 months ago

No pace, they all count. Its the screwed up priorities. Three bus companies running in this town. I could do it with one. Our children are walking to school while we bus healthy adults all over town, many of them from Hendersons flop house. Take all the busses, put them under one umbrella as they are all funded from some type of taxation, and make a complete system that actually works.

jafs 6 years, 10 months ago

That's actually an interesting idea.

Are you aware of any such combined systems? Do they work well?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 10 months ago

I believe there is a federal law against merging a school bus system with a system for the general public.

The two other systems have already essentially merged, anyway.

jafs 6 years, 10 months ago

Have the fees increased with the availability of using the passes on the city system as well as the KU one, and does the city get any of that money if so?

My impression is that the passes were previously only for KU buses, and that now students can ride the city ones as well with them.

If so, they're not contributing much, if anything to the city expenses related to the bus system.

Random56 6 years, 10 months ago

Sounds like you see everything through democrat eyes and I think you are probably as closed minded as tea partiers and republicans.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 6 years, 10 months ago

Just further proof that this community is run by idiots. They plead and cry about poverty, we have to have tax increases. Then these dolts go and spend this money claiming vapid benefits for the 10 or 12 regular riders. No wonder this city is a morass of stupidity in government, the people don't care a whit about city elections and we get these dumb-as-a-box-of-rocks commissioners who adhere to these slogans and -notions and spend, spend, spend for imaginary and invisible benefits. Sounds like Governer Perry's prayer fest.

Phone_Man 6 years, 10 months ago

I love Gas and Diesel sucking ground shaking noise polluting V8 power. I own 5 V8 fossil fuel burning beauties and would love nothing more than to see the Hybrid clown cars banned from the WORLD forever. I also love to chop down trees to use in my Smoker all summer long and in the winter I chop down more trees to heat my house. I think tree huggers should be given their own state; say California. You can drive your Japanese Hybrid clown cars to your hearts content, eat granola, plant some trees and sing Kumbaya. I really don't care what you do just don't force your over priced fairy tale "green" beliefs or buses on me.

imastinker 6 years, 10 months ago

You probably have a lot more than 5 sitting in the barn and junk pile!

kernal 6 years, 10 months ago

I've been driving my "Japanese clown cars" since the oil embargo in the early 1970's. Getting in line at 5:30am in the morning and sitting there for two to four hours to get gas did it for me. I've also saved a lot of money in gas over the past forty years.

Good luck to you in the future.

Phone_Man 6 years, 10 months ago

Thanks for helping out the foreign countries; perhaps you should move there. I'm keeping my money here in the USA with my V8 power.

Elaine Elliott 6 years, 10 months ago

I love my Japanese car, I would love it just the same if it were made in America, but it's not. I love these buses too. Good work city of Lawrence! I'll gladly have my tax dollars go to cleaner air.

crittersister 6 years, 10 months ago

" The city received about $1.8 million in federal stimulus dollars in 2009 that allowed the buses to be purchased without any local funding."

Maybe some people should read the whole article before they get their undies in a bundle.

Hey Phone Man. Where do you think all the gas comes from that goes in your tank? Thanks for helping out the Middle East.

Phone_Man 6 years, 10 months ago

The stimulus dollars should have gone to something more important, not some make believe "green" initiative. We have people without jobs, food banks that are empty, a whole lot of more important things stimulus money could go for rather than goofy tree hugging green buses.

You are correct with your Middle East comment; I do give them my money. I guess I will continue to do so until we get rid of the tree huggers and tap Alaska for its full oil potential.

gr 6 years, 10 months ago

Critter, And where does that stimulus money come from?

And where does Obama get it from? Well...well....well......
I don't rightly know.'

kernal 6 years, 10 months ago

Phone_Man, Nissan has had plants in the U.S. for twenty-five years, Toyota, VW, KIA and others do as well. Salaries paid to U.S. employees, at foreign automakers plants located in the U.S., are in the billions. Approximately one hundred thousand U.S. citizens have jobs in this country because of foreign automakers and that doesn't include the independent parts companies who sell goods to the automakers.

Phone_Man 6 years, 10 months ago

Kernal, you are correct but the bulk of the profits go back to the mother country. If we kept our jobs here in the US instead of shipping them overseas we wouldn't need the Nissan and Toyota jobs or need to buy their crappy cars.

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