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GRDadof3

Should the new Silver Line use hybrid buses?

Should the new Silver Line use hybrid buses? (Before you answer, you should read the thread and the linked articles)   25 members have voted

  1. 1. What type of buses should be used for the Silver Line?

    • Hybrid, low floor buses
      13
    • Regular, low floor buses
      12
    • Other
      0
  2. 2. How important is it to be seen as "Green?"

    • Very important, even if mainly symbolic
      3
    • Important, if it makes environmental sense but not necessarily financial sense
      3
    • Important, but it should make both environmental and financial sense
      17
    • Not that important
      2

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20 posts in this topic

On the heels of passage of The Rapid's millage that will fund the new BRT Silver Line, should The Rapid use the money earmarked for capital costs for this project on hybrid buses? Do opponents of the millage make a good argument that hybrid buses are not worth the added cost?

) The Rapid plans to purchase 10 rolling stock for the Silver Line (may or may not be hybrid, but marketing materials talk about hybrid buses)

) Hybrid buses are almost twice as expensive as standard buses, at over $500,000 (vs about $300,000 for a standard bus)

) Fuel efficiency, as reported by The Rapid, is only about .68 mpg over regular buses,

http://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2011/04/is_the_rapid_transit_system_us.html

Some additional resources:

http://www.hybridcenter.org/hybrid-transit-buses.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/22/automobiles/autospecial2/22BUS.html

A study is due out from GVSU regarding the current hybrid fleet.

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I'd probably have to see actual comparisons to be sure, but I'm betting hybrids make even less sense for buses than for cars. I assume they're not planning to put overhead wires up and make this thing all electric. That would be cool, though again, I have no idea what the cost/benefit of that is.

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I'd probably have to see actual comparisons to be sure, but I'm betting hybrids make even less sense for buses than for cars. I assume they're not planning to put overhead wires up and make this thing all electric. That would be cool, though again, I have no idea what the cost/benefit of that is.

No plans for electrical wires.

The Rapid did say that they saved about $20,000 in fuel costs with the four buses they have (this was a few years ago). Those 4 buses were an added expense (together) of almost $1 Million (provided by federal grants).

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I guess it depends on the timing of the purchase and what is available at that time. In theory, the buses chosen for the BRT should represent the future, in terms of fuel economy, emissions and maintenance. Unfortunately even the newer hybrids have proven to be problematic in deployments in other cities. I just read about the Fisher Coachworks GTB-40, developed in Troy, which is supposed to be half the weight and double the fuel economy. But the company is having financial troubles. So right now things are not looking good for hybrids.

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I suppose it depends upon the nature of the funds earmarked for capital costs. Does the Rapid have to use all of the funds? If they don't, what happens to what's left over: does it return to the federal government, sit in the rapid's coffers? If it doesn't return anywhere, can the funds saved by not purchasing hybrid be used for any other purpose (perhaps further improvements to other features on the Silver Line)? There's too many questions I have on the nature these capital funds, how they're allowed to be used, and what happens to any extra funds for me to make any decision on this matter.

IF a certain amount of the funds MUST be used for bus purchases, the funds won't return anywhere useful, and there would be extra funds left over with regular bus purchases, I would say use what's been given and buy hybrids. If this is not the case, it seems regular buses would be the wiser option, unless the millage won't be able to provide for that additional 20.000 in fuel costs.

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I suppose it depends upon the nature of the funds earmarked for capital costs. Does the Rapid have to use all of the funds? If they don't, what happens to what's left over: does it return to the federal government, sit in the rapid's coffers? If it doesn't return anywhere, can the funds saved by not purchasing hybrid be used for any other purpose (perhaps further improvements to other features on the Silver Line)? There's too many questions I have on the nature these capital funds, how they're allowed to be used, and what happens to any extra funds for me to make any decision on this matter.

IF a certain amount of the funds MUST be used for bus purchases, the funds won't return anywhere useful, and there would be extra funds left over with regular bus purchases, I would say use what's been given and buy hybrids. If this is not the case, it seems regular buses would be the wiser option, unless the millage won't be able to provide for that additional 20.000 in fuel costs.

I would assume the funds have to be used specifically for the Silver Line capital improvements (buses, stations, traffic light systems, road striping, etc..) and whatever you don't use, stays at the Federal govt. But even if you "have to use it or it goes somewhere else" is true, would it show proper fiscal restraint to not buy hybrids if the they don't make economical sense? I think even in that article, Don Lawless was alluding to that by saying "we're not going to buy hybrids just to have them." At some point in the next couple of years, I would assume The Rapid will be asking for more money to work on additional items in the master plan. Might be wise not to give the other side ammunition.

It will be interesting to see the GVSU report when it comes out. And as gas prices keep going up, the payoff for the hybrids doesn't take as long.

The DDA weighed in on this issue back in 2009:

http://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2009/08/dda_rejects_grand_rapids_mayor.html

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No plans for electrical wires.

The Rapid did say that they saved about $20,000 in fuel costs with the four buses they have (this was a few years ago). Those 4 buses were an added expense (together) of almost $1 Million (provided by federal grants).

So, $20,000 / 4 = $5,000 per bus. If they bought them four years ago, and you read about it ~3 years ago I assume that's a 1-year savings. The hybrid bosses cost $200,000 more up front, so it would take 40 years to break even. I don't know what the useful life of a bus is, but I'd be surprised if it's 40 years, and at any rate, you could do something else with that money now that would be worth more than saving $5,000.

I suppose if you assume fuel prices will increase dramatically over the next decade this begins to make more sense, and I'd say that's a pretty likely scenario given the ever-weakening dollar and supply constraints of oil itself. So I give the hybrid idea a hearty "meh."

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Instead of either, they should buy extended length passenger vans. Probably more than enough for the tiny number of people that will ever use this colossal waste of money. "Fast" buses ... what a joke. Faster than my car? I think not. Let's see .. at 300k, that buys 100 used cars per bus, and--let's be blunt--is still a far more expensive car than most people riding the bus could or would afford. At 10 buses, that buys 1000 used cars, as well as personal freedom and mobility. But then there's those without drivers licenses ... so if the car idea won't work, and vans are just too rational, how about just letting Dean Transportation run this thing with school buses? I bet we could save even more money then, and those bus drivers really know how to move it right along when they need to.

I've seen wastes of money, but adding hybrid-bus-wastes-of-money to an already laughable and unnecessary service is just further insult to injury.

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I hope you're not seriously suggesting using school buses in the city bus system. Ridership would probably drop dramatically, and would likely become a bit of a laughing stock.

Anyway, there's a reason the rapid does not operate vans. The cost of operation of a van is not very different from the cost of operation of a bus, and has a shorter lifespan. It would cost more to operate vans over a 20 year period than it would the current buses.

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Instead of either, they should buy extended length passenger vans. Probably more than enough for the tiny number of people that will ever use this colossal waste of money. "Fast" buses ... what a joke. Faster than my car? I think not. Let's see .. at 300k, that buys 100 used cars per bus, and--let's be blunt--is still a far more expensive car than most people riding the bus could or would afford. At 10 buses, that buys 1000 used cars, as well as personal freedom and mobility. But then there's those without drivers licenses ... so if the car idea won't work, and vans are just too rational, how about just letting Dean Transportation run this thing with school buses? I bet we could save even more money then, and those bus drivers really know how to move it right along when they need to.

I've seen wastes of money, but adding hybrid-bus-wastes-of-money to an already laughable and unnecessary service is just further insult to injury.

:rolleyes:

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I see a lot of focus being put on fuel economy, because I guess that's where any of the immediate savings would be, but at least here in Lansing, which has 23 hybrid buses (14 standard, and 9 articulated - all low floored), another big selling point was that they have reduced maintence cost, though, you'd not see those savings until you get down the road a bit. At the moment, short of electrified trolley buses that require overhead wires, hybrids are about as good as it gets for bus transportation, and it's probably smart to get them whenever possible. I'm not 100% sure if it is CATA's official policy, but I know that as they've been retiring their old fleet (GM Rapid Transit Series) they's been replacing them with the low-floor hyrbid New Flyers.

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I see a lot of focus being put on fuel economy, because I guess that's where any of the immediate savings would be, but at least here in Lansing, which has 23 hybrid buses (14 standard, and 9 articulated - all low floored), another big selling point was that they have reduced maintence cost, though, you'd not see those savings until you get down the road a bit. At the moment, short of electrified trolley buses that require overhead wires, hybrids are about as good as it gets for bus transportation, and it's probably smart to get them whenever possible. I'm not 100% sure if it is CATA's official policy, but I know that as they've been retiring their old fleet (GM Rapid Transit Series) they's been replacing them with the low-floor hyrbid New Flyers.

I agree.. My best friends' dad told me, when we were youngsters and Ive carried it with me ever since, to only buy the top quality of whatever you get... in the short run you may regret or fret about the high cost but, in the long run you 'll be so happy that you did... it'll have less problems, last longer, look better, and make you happier... :)

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May you grow up to be old and poor. :) Seriously, though, while there is some truth to buying something better than the bottom of the barrel (unless you never plan to use it again), buying quality without regard to cost is a formula for fiscal ruin. Unfortunately, that's all too often the path government takes. Hence, my ingenious suggestion that they outsource the buses. As long as the City's sucking us all dry for their little pet bus project, they might as well spend the money wisely. I believe Dean Transportation, for example, actually does run some bus lines up in Lansing: http://deantransportation.com/services. Let them do it for (I suspect) a fraction of the City's cost.

I agree.. My best friends' dad told me, when we were youngsters and Ive carried it with me ever since, to only buy the top quality of whatever you get... in the short run you may regret or fret about the high cost but, in the long run you 'll be so happy that you did... it'll have less problems, last longer, look better, and make you happier... :)

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... As long as the City's sucking us all dry for their little pet bus project, ...

We have a winner for hyperbole of the year. :yahoo:

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May you grow up to be old and poor. :) Seriously, though, while there is some truth to buying something better than the bottom of the barrel (unless you never plan to use it again), buying quality without regard to cost is a formula for fiscal ruin. Unfortunately, that's all too often the path government takes. Hence, my ingenious suggestion that they outsource the buses. As long as the City's sucking us all dry for their little pet bus project, they might as well spend the money wisely. I believe Dean Transportation, for example, actually does run some bus lines up in Lansing: http://deantransportation.com/services. Let them do it for (I suspect) a fraction of the City's cost.

maybe I should've added that he also said to save your money and not purchase anythign on credit.. save it til you can get it...

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May you grow up to be old and poor. :) Seriously, though, while there is some truth to buying something better than the bottom of the barrel (unless you never plan to use it again), buying quality without regard to cost is a formula for fiscal ruin. Unfortunately, that's all too often the path government takes. Hence, my ingenious suggestion that they outsource the buses. As long as the City's sucking us all dry for their little pet bus project, they might as well spend the money wisely. I believe Dean Transportation, for example, actually does run some bus lines up in Lansing: http://deantransportation.com/services. Let them do it for (I suspect) a fraction of the City's cost.

I think we should outsource transit to banks. And not "banks" per se, but transit brokers who can then buy up transit assets all over, repackage them and resell them on the market, so that they then get re-repackaged and sold again and again into derivatives. That'd certainly save a lot of money, and the buses would actually be churning out unbelievable short term profits. Then mix all those transit derivatives with oil company stocks, and start the process up again. Winner.

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I would fear the privatisation of the bus system. While a private business might be better with money, yes, they're not nearly as good at working for the common good and benefit of the people. Rather, the best way to turn the biggest profit usually involves the exploitation of the people, from what I've seen. I'm not saying everything should be run by the government, but broad community services such as the rapid shouldn't. Those who rely on and need the rapid the most are those who would bring it the less profit due to their low incomes. Those are the people who would eventually suffer in the interests of improved profits -- and don't ever expect the management to suddenly have lower wages.

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May you grow up to be old and poor. :) Seriously, though, while there is some truth to buying something better than the bottom of the barrel (unless you never plan to use it again), buying quality without regard to cost is a formula for fiscal ruin. Unfortunately, that's all too often the path government takes. Hence, my ingenious suggestion that they outsource the buses. As long as the City's sucking us all dry for their little pet bus project, they might as well spend the money wisely. I believe Dean Transportation, for example, actually does run some bus lines up in Lansing: http://deantransport...n.com/services. Let them do it for (I suspect) a fraction of the City's cost.

cost of everything, value of nothing...

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May you grow up to be old and poor. :) Seriously, though, while there is some truth to buying something better than the bottom of the barrel (unless you never plan to use it again), buying quality without regard to cost is a formula for fiscal ruin. Unfortunately, that's all too often the path government takes. Hence, my ingenious suggestion that they outsource the buses. As long as the City's sucking us all dry for their little pet bus project, they might as well spend the money wisely. I believe Dean Transportation, for example, actually does run some bus lines up in Lansing: http://deantransport...n.com/services. Let them do it for (I suspect) a fraction of the City's cost.

Since Lansing's Transit millage is twice (3 mills) what ITP's (The Rapid) millage will be AFTER the raise that was approved is fully phased in, perhaps Lansing should look at handing ALL of their routes over to Dean and see how that works out for them. Maybe they could get their millage down to what ours will be.

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I think hybrid buses are worth it, in addition to being more fuel efficient they are quieter and ride smoother.

At CATA here in Lansing they have bought several hybrid buses over the past several years. Right now they have 10 hybrid buses, seven out of their 82 standard 40' buses are hybrid and 3 out of their ten 60' articulated buses are hybrid.

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