Here come the hybrids: CAT provides a sneak peek at new bus

gillig.jpgNear the end of today’s Chatham Urban Transit Study Policy Committee meeting, Chatham Area Transit Interim Executive Director Joe Murray Rivers announced he had something to show the group. Near the corner of State and Drayton streets waited a Gillig Hyrbrid low floor transit bus. Rivers said CAT has ordered 11 hybrid buses, which will be carrying passengers in Savannah in 12-18 months. Eric Curl wrote about the buses in the Savannah Morning News earlier this year.

According to promotional literature, the buses are powered by “GM Allison Hybrid Ep Systems” that deliver improved fuel economy:

“The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) conducted chassis dynamometer tests using two 60′ buses — one with the GM Allison Hybrid Ep System and one with a conventional powertrain. The testing showed a 75 percent improvement in fuel economy during a stop-and-go Manhattan duty cycle. Actual in-service fuel economy improvements range from 20-54 percent compared to conventional buses.”

The literature also suggests the buses produce fewer emissions:

“…overall emissions are significantly reduced during operation compared to conventional combustion engines. Oxides of nitrogen (NOx) emissions are reduced up to 50 percent even with the latest 2.5 gram/hp-hr engines. The system also provides significant emission reduction when compared to alternative propulsion systems.”

Still not impressed? Maybe this will be music to your ears:

“The GM Allison Hybrid Ep System helps reduce noise pollution compared to conventional buses. At 79 db @ 10 meters, buses equipped with the system approach the sound level of passenger cars.”

Still, buses of any kind can be a tough sell locally. There remains, in some quarters, the idea that transit funding is an unnecessary and wasteful subsidy. This viewpoint, of course, conveniently ignores the much, much larger government subsidy devoted to private automobiles.

In his announcement about the bus preview, Rivers took the opportunity to point out that CAT ridership is up 10 percent compared with the same period last year. Chatham County Commission Chariman Pete Liakakis followed this up with a suggestion that the bad press CAT has received lately does not tell the entire story. CAT is on the way up, he said.

Savannahians will be able to take a ride on the bus on Oct. 23 and 24, according to a CAT press release.

On Thursday, the pilot hybrid bus will be on the 14 Abercorn route leaving Broughton at Montgomery at 10 a.m. heading outbound to the malls. This bus will then depart at 11 a.m. from Savannah Mall and return downtown at noon.  The bus will then run the 3A Augusta Avenue route leaving Broughton at Montgomery at 12:30 p.m. and travel its regular route to Highway 21 and  Brampton. It will leave there at 1 p.m. and return downtown at 1:30 p.m. On Friday, the bus will travel on the 27 Waters route to Oglethorpe Mall leaving Broughton at Montgomery at 9 a.m., arriving at the mall at 9:45 a.m. It will then leave Oglethorpe Mall at 9:55 a.m. and return downtown at 10:40 a.m.

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About John Bennett

Transportation, land use, local farming and green building are all potential topics for Sustainable Savannah. The goal is to aggregate content about local events and projects, so there will be a central place to review everything that’s happening. The site is aimed at encouraging collaboration and information sharing between groups and individuals currently engaged in sustainability efforts. The site can also provide a snapshot of Savannah for green-minded people who are considering visiting or moving to the area.

3 thoughts on “Here come the hybrids: CAT provides a sneak peek at new bus

  1. John McMasters

    The major reason you were able to report this is because Jeremy Scheinbart, Jerald Freedman, Steve Willis, Karen Grainey and myself have made it a point to focus through our campaigns the failures of the CAT system. The commission has been in office for 4 years and IGNORED CAT. We began calling for reinvestment in mass transit this spring during the primary season. We called for “a world class mass transportation system.” Attention was called to an entirely diesel fleet and the need to buy “clean buses.”

    Does anyone really think they would have done anything without a concerted campaign to speak out about this?

    We could do this for bike paths and bike lanes, call me I’ll tell you how to do it.

    John McMasters

  2. Drew

    It’s great to see the Creative Coast finally getting creative with transportation as well. We have had these buses in NYC for a few years now and you can certainly tell the difference between them and their diesel guzzling counterparts. When passing a busstop now you almost find yourself scoping out the Hybrid or Electric decal on the bus to see if you are going to need a face mask or not just to walk by.

    Mass transit is so important and I am delighted Savannah is realizing such.

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