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Three Michigan bus systems go greener and cleaner,
thanks to Recovery Act funding
March 15, 2010 -- Transit agencies in Bay City, Battle Creek and Saginaw will add green technology to several buses in their fleet, thanks to a $538,000 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act) grant for small, urban systems, said the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT).
The three agencies are Bay Metro, Battle Creek Transit and Saginaw Transit Authority Regional Service (STARS). They now have funding for a total of 19 mini-Hybrid Thermal conversion kits that are turning full-sized buses into more fuel-saving, quieter rides for passengers.
The product was developed by Engineered Machined Products (EMP) of Escanaba and will be installed and tested by the company, which provides training to the agencies for their maintenance staff. The mini-Hybrid conversion increases fuel economy by 3 to 10 percent, eliminates the use of hydraulic fluids, reduces maintenance costs and lessens curb noise from the bus. The fuel savings alone can amount to as much as $2,000 per bus annually.
"We believe the mini-Hybrid system will be important for the transit system and the community as a whole for several reasons," said Mike Stoner, general manager, Bay Metro. "It will help reduce diesel particulate emissions into the environment, keeping the air we breathe cleaner. Our day-to-day operating costs will be reduced because of fuel savings. Plus, we'll be able to operate our older buses for a longer period, which will reduce long-term replacement costs. And, it gives us an opportunity to be on the cutting edge of a new technology, something small organizations like Bay Metro Transit rarely have the opportunity to do."
Smaller urban transit systems often keep large buses for 15-20 years. With the retrofit of a mini-Hybrid thermal system, that can extend the useful life of the buses. Transit authorities have experienced fuel economy improvements of up to 10 percent, depending on location and use, which reduces the amount of emissions associated with exhaust from buses. Retrofitting a diesel bus can be accomplished at a fraction of the cost of a new hybrid bus.
"We've worked closely with TACOM product development on the creation of this innovative dual-use technology for both military and commercial applications," said Ralph Bedogne, vice president, EMP. "Through the continued support of U.S. Sen. Carl Levin and U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak, we now have a robust and viable technology for use on municipal transit buses. EMP's mini-Hybrid Thermal System improves fuel economy, reduces emissions and improves safety. Most importantly, the mini-Hybrid initiative has helped us retain at least 12 full-time jobs."
EMP conducted 7 million miles of testing on pilots buses across the nation before the system was installed in Michigan. Since early 2009, more than 1,000 mini-Hybrid Thermal Systems have been installed on transit buses across North America. When the hybrid kits are installed on buses this spring, Bay Metro will have six converted buses, Battle Creek Transit three, and STARS will have 10. The Recovery Act-funded project was initiated by MDOT.
MDOT: Working with our partners at airports, bus systems, marine and rail to find innovative solutions for Michigan's transportation systems.