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MDOT announces funding for new small hybrid buses in Michigan
September 11, 2009 -- The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) has a new $5.6 million contract for up to 50 small hybrid buses now available for local transit agencies in Michigan. The agencies would use state and federal grants to purchase the buses, including American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) federal grants. The new "green" technology is expected to improve fuel economy by up to 40 percent, reduce maintenance costs by 30 percent, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent.
"It is exciting to make small hybrid buses available to Michigan transit agencies, given their savings in emissions and better fuel economy," said Sharon Edgar, MDOT administrator, Passenger Transportation. "This is exactly what Michigan transit agencies are looking for - a small hybrid transit bus, more efficient, and better suited to their service needs. It's a new direction for transit systems everywhere in the nation and we have several Michigan agencies that are interested in obtaining one or more for their system."
"Small hybrid buses have increased fuel economy, lower maintenance costs, and help the environment. They're user-friendly for the customer," said Ron Prell, transit manager, Thunder Bay Transportation Authority in Alpena. "We want to utilize a vehicle that will become cost-effective in the long run, and good for our community and the five counties we serve. Every change has to start somewhere, and that place is Thunder Bay Transportation."
A 23-foot bus will carry 12-14 passengers and can be lift-equipped. The base cost of each bus is approximately $106,000. The buses will be manufactured in the Midwest; the hybrid system will be manufactured by Azure Dynamics, headquartered in Oak Park; and the battery packs assembled by Cobasys in Lake Orion. Later, the hybrid system will switch to a new lithium ion pack battery manufactured in a new Johnson Controls-Saft production facility in Holland.
The bus is called a "parallel hybrid" because the electric drive can run parallel to the standard gas engine. Under 20 mph, it will run off electricity. More than 20 mph, the engine will run, powering the drive train and recharging the batteries.
MDOT: Working with our partners at airports, bus systems, marine and rail to find innovative solutions for Michigan's transportation systems.