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First Extended-range Hybrid Bus Joins MBTA Silver Line Fleet

Posted on September 26, 2018

New bus features include the next generation of hybrid propulsion systems and "start/stop" technology

The Silver Line's new extended-range hybrid bus

Today in South Boston, Governor Charlie Baker, Massachusetts Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack, MBTA General Manager Luis Ramírez, and more gathered to celebrate the introduction of the 45th Bus, the MBTA’s first extended-range hybrid bus, into the MBTA's Silver Line fleet.

“Testing new technology will help the MBTA as they plan the future of the Silver Line and explore ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the Commonwealth’s transportation system,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “The MBTA will continue to evaluate additional enhancements to the bus fleet as it makes progress on delivering a more reliable bus network.”

“Putting this bus into service by the MBTA is part of the Commonwealth’s commitment to reducing gas emissions in a changing climate,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “With enhanced technology, the MBTA will evaluate how new buses can help deliver better service to customers.”

“We are continuing to strengthen our transportation system and explore innovative new technologies that will promote sustainability while improving service for our riders,” said Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack. “This new extended-range hybrid bus will operate on a test basis throughout the MBTA’s service area and we look forward to learning more about the performance and feasibility of this mobility option.”

“While we work to improve the MBTA bus network, we have also been focused on embracing new technology that can help us deliver better service for our customers,” said MBTA General Manager Luis Manuel Ramírez. “While we look forward to seeing how the 45th bus performs, we hope its advanced propulsion system can help us improve service, further reduce greenhouse gases, and position the T to be a leader in the adoption of new and innovative vehicles and components that could power the next generation of our bus fleet.”

In December 2015, the MBTA executed a contract with New Flyer Industries, Inc., for 44 60-foot, diesel-electric hybrid buses, which have all been delivered and currently operate along all Silver Line routes. This contract with New Flyer included options for additional vehicles, one of which was the option for one 60-foot extended-range hybrid bus. The MBTA exercised this option in July 2017 with this 45th bus delivered in September 2018.

About the 45th Bus

With a commitment to vehicle efficiency, energy conservation, and sustainability, the MBTA continues to explore available technologies and new vehicles that are capable of zero-emissions operation in the Silver Line Transitway Tunnel, which serves the World Trade Center, Courthouse, and South Station stops.

Extended-range hybrid buses like the 45th Bus feature the next generation of hybrid propulsion systems that reduce greenhouse gases and nitrogen oxide emissions. While also incorporating overall passenger accommodation improvements included on all recent new bus procurements, the 45th Bus also includes engine “start/stop” technology, which automatically reduces the time a bus idles when stopped, and all-electric accessories that improve maintenance costs.

On surface roads, the 45th Bus operates as a typical hybrid vehicle. Upon arriving at the Silver Line Transitway Tunnel, the engine turns off with the bus operating through the Tunnel completely on its all-electric, zero-emissions battery. This technology does not require the use of overhead catenary wire, which is used to power the current dual-mode articulated (DMA) Silver Line fleet within the Tunnel. Eliminating the need for the complex catenary wire infrastructure within the Tunnel has the potential to substantially reduce infrastructure maintenance costs. While operating with battery power, the 45th Bus is able to make all underground station stops before returning to the street level where its engine is restarted and the batteries are recharged as it operates on surface roads.

Going Forward

With the 45th Bus in service, MBTA staff will evaluate its performance for 6 months, focusing on its operation on different routes, during different seasons, and in varying types of weather conditions. Testing of the bus will focus on optimizing its power consumption and battery life/health. The MBTA will also evaluate the start/stop technology for potential implementation of a zero-emissions operation at Logan Airport. Based on the results of this 6-month testing period, the MBTA will consider an option for up to forty-five additional extended range hybrid buses.

The MBTA also continues to evaluate the maintenance, operations, and facility needs for its next generation of buses with plans to completely replace the existing DMA bus fleet as it reaches the end of its useful life. Alternative vehicle types, including other types of battery-powered buses, for use within the Silver Line Transitway Tunnel continue to be evaluated.

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