Latest hybrid bus hits the road in Minneapolis

A $1.2 federal grant funded two of the latest hybrid bus models for Metro Transit.

Latest hybrid bus hits the road in Minneapolis

Jessica Lee

Metro Transit’s  newest hybrid-electric bus made its inaugural run early Monday, departing from a North Minneapolis garage.

The next-generation bus picked up passengers at the Nicollet Mall  area, marking another step in clean-energy technology in the Twin Cities.

“This bus has better fuel savings, reduced emissions and other benefits,” Metro Transit spokesman John Siqveland  said. “The new bus model can operate in all-electric mode, proving to be one of the cleanest buses in the country.”

A $1.2 million federal grant funded most of the costs for two new hybrid-electric buses, which were unveiled Aug. 24 at the Minnesota State Fair. The second bus will begin routes in a few weeks.

Both buses were manufactured in Minnesota, and many of the parts come from Minnesota-based companies, according to a Metro Transit press release.

In 2002, Metro Transit was one of the first U.S. transit agencies to add a hybrid bus to its fleet, according to the release. Today, the agency operates 97 hybrid-electric buses — about 11 percent of its fleet.

The University of Minnesota transportation system operates privately with three first-generation hybrid buses and plans to add more to its fleet when possible.

“As funds allow, we will be putting out more hybrid buses,” said Bill Stahlmann, assistant director of Fleet Services, a division of Parking and Transportation Services at the University.

The hybrid technology is a part of the Metro Transit’s Go Greener program — an effort focused on providing transportation options that reduce energy use and harmful emissions into the environment.

David Kittelson, a mechanical engineering professor at the University, researched the potential benefits of additional electrification of bus systems.

The bus systems in the new hybrids, such as air conditioning, heating and power steering, are powered by a hybrid battery, according to the release.

With support from the University’s Center for Transportation Studies, The Initiative for Renewable Energy  and the Environment  and the Metropolitan Council, Kittelson’s research was published in July 2009.

Kittelson’s research was an integral part of creating the next-generation buses.

But his research is not over. Kittelson continues to study new clean, energy-efficient technologies.

“We are proposing a new study on the latest buses to determine internal energy flows in great detail,” Kittelson said, “and to make recommendations for the most cost-effective means to select buses appropriate to different applications or routes.”