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Week of October 7, 2013

U-M to increase number of hybrid buses

Campus commuters will have a greater chance of riding a hybrid bus as three more diesel-electric buses join the U-M Ann Arbor fleet this month.

This brings the number of hybrid buses on campus to 10. The new vehicles will replace current university buses that run on diesel fuel. There are 58 buses in the university’s fleet.

With the addition of three diesel-electric buses at U-M, the fleet of hybrid buses grows to 10 this month. Photo by Scott C. Soderberg, Michigan Photography.

“One out of every six university buses is now a hybrid,” says Keith Johnson, associate director of transportation operations. “Our long-term goal is an entire fleet of highly efficient and sustainable vehicles.”

Since introducing them to the fleet in 2012, the use of hybrid buses has led to a decrease in fuel consumption and reduced emissions by 25 percent compared to diesel-powered buses.

The hybrid buses are part of President Mary Sue Coleman’s broader sustainability initiative, called Planet Blue, which includes the goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In addition, the hybrid bus fleet has traveled more than 389,000 miles through an estimated 2.6 million rides.

The 40-foot buses use a roof-mounted battery system to supplement their diesel engines, allowing for better fuel mileage and lower emissions.

Hybrid technology is especially beneficial for vehicles that encounter frequent stop-and-go traffic, like campus buses. When the brakes are applied, a generator converts the energy released from deceleration into electrical energy, which is stored in a battery and used when the bus accelerates.

Parking & Transportation Services will continue to evaluate the number of vehicles needed in the fleet and, when those vehicles are due to be replaced, will consider alternative energy or the most fuel-efficient vehicles possible for the vehicle application.


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Jeff Ringenberg, lecturer IV for the Computer Science Engineering Division of the College of Engineering, on what inspires him: “Innovation and the pace of technology — the next new thing is always right there.”