Near 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.