Hybrid Buses a Bust in Toronto

hybrid bus drawing

It is a sad tale: Local bus manufacturer is bought by Daimler, manufactures hybrid bus design that sells well as far away as San Francisco and New York City. But in the home market of Toronto, they don't work well at all. The lead-acid batteries were supposed to last four years and are dying after 18 months, at a rate of 140 batteries per week. They are using only 10% less diesel fuel instead of the 20% to 30% saving that was promised. And they cost almost 50% more to purchase in the first place.

So what is the problem?

orion in san francisco image

Orion in San Francisco via After Gutenberg

It may be the routes they put them on; In Toronto many crowded downtown routes have streetcars and subways, so the buses are used on long suburban routes, whereas hybrids work best in stop and go traffic. That is why they appear to be happy with them in New York, where they are getting the promised diesel savings.

Nobody is happy about the fact that the City is still on the hook to buy another 130 hybrids, but these will be delivered with lithium-ion batteries. But after that, it is back to Daimler "clean diesel." Globe and Mail

trolley bus toronto image

Perhaps they should consider bringing back the trolley buses that we had until they cancelled them in 1993. They ran up a primarily residential street a block away from our house and were dead silent, completely non-polluting (not including the pollution from the 30% of our electricity that comes from coal) and the equipment lasted forever. The overhead wires were ugly, but that is a small price to pay for quiet, dependable transport. More at Spacing

trolleys in toronto image

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