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TTC is going is back to diesel buses


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The TTC is going back to buying diesel buses because the batteries on its newer hybrid diesel-electric models are proving too "hit and miss."


An existing order for 130 hybrids next year will go ahead, but next week TTC staff will recommend the commission approve a $61 million order for "clean diesel" buses in 2010.


The remaining 2009 hybrids will be delivered with Chrysler's new lithium-ion batteries rather than the lead-acid cells already in use on the TTC fleet. The TTC wants to test the newer batteries but isn't prepared to commit to that technology, said spokesperson Brad Ross, who didn't rule out the possibility of trying hybrids again after the 2010 order.


Much of the financing for the new buses came from Ottawa, which gave the TTC $303.5 million last March – enough to buy almost 700 of the new hybrids. Heavily touted at the time were the reputed environmental benefits – 37 per cent fewer greenhouse gas emissions, 30-50 per cent fewer emissions of harmful particulates, nitrous oxide emissions cut by 30 to 50 per cent and 20 to 30 per cent less fuel. There will be 564 hybrids on Toronto streets by the end of the year, about one-third of the TTC's 1,700-vehicle fleet.


"We have to have a bus that we can rely on," said Ross. "The batteries are dying much sooner than they ought to."


Batteries that should be lasting five years are surviving only about 18 months, which affects service because those buses have to come off the road for repairs, he said.


The hybrids have also failed to live up to projected fuel savings because the technology is most beneficial in stop-and-go downtown traffic and there are a limited number of such routes, Ross said. Many TTC routes operate in less busy residential neighbourhoods.


It was hoped the hybrid buses would save 20 to 30 per cent on fuel but they are achieving only about a 10 per cent saving, he said.


The TTC will save about $24 million by ordering diesel rather than hybrid because diesel buses cost about $200,000 less than the $700,000 hybrid models, he added.


The hybrid buses entered service here last December, making the TTC the first Canadian transit service to embrace the new technology in a big way. While BC Transit, Edmonton and Ottawa have a few units in service, the TTC said at the time of the roll-out that it believed it was the first transit company in Canada undertaking to create hybrids in its fleet.


The buses now on the road were built by Daimler-owned Orion Bus. The integrated chassis/body structure of each bus is assembled at Orion's Mississauga factory, then shipped to the Oriskany, N.Y., plant, where seating, engines, transmissions, axles, electrical, heating and air conditioning is added.


Link http://www.thestar.com/News/GTA/article/519770

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