University of Michigan sustainability initiative brings 3 more hybrid buses to campus
The University of Michigan added three new hybrid buses to its fleet this month, fulfilling a September 2011 commitment made by president Mary Sue Coleman that the university would introduce seven hybrid buses in a year in an effort to be more sustainable.
AnnArbor.com file photo
The 40-foot hybrid-electric buses are reported to have better mileage, roughly getting five miles per gallon of diesel fuel, a 30 percent improvement when compared to the conventional U-M buses. U-M estimates the seven buses will bring a combined annual fuel savings of $44,000.
The buses use a roof-mounted battery system to supplement their diesel engines, allowing for reduced emissions. Using a generator, the bus can store energy released from stopping at a light or stop sign and use it when accelerating, further preserving fuel.
Each bus costs $518,345, according to U-M. The hybrids cost $175,000 more than conventional buses. So far U-M has spent $3.6 million on the hybrids, although their purchase partially has been subsidized by $700,000 in federal grant funds.
The buses are part of a $14 million sustainability initiative launched last September. which Coleman said will be accomplished by embracing solar panels, going trayless in certain cafeterias, reducing runoff, gathering food from local sources, applying less chemicals in grounds care, limiting emissions by 25 percent in the next 13 years and introducing the hybrids.
Angela Cesere | AnnArbor.com
"Right now hybrid technology is the most cost efficient, sustainable and efficient mode to go," said Keith Johnson, associate director of transportation operations.
Johnson said U-M is using the new hybrid buses to replace older models from the early 2000s.
Coleman said by 2025 she expects all university buses to by hybrids. Johnson said that over the next decade the university will acquire between two and four buses a year, either with hybrid technology or a similar system.
More than 40 city-owned hybrid buses already have been rolling around Ann Arbor since 2007. In their first two years, the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority's fleet of 20 hybrid buses conserved 100,000 gallons in fuel, for a monetary savings of $270,000.
In addition to the hybrids, the university already has 56 hybrid electric passenger vehicles and 15 all-electric vehicles.
According to university figures, ridership of U-M buses is increasing, rising from 6.5 million rides in fiscal 2010 to 6.9 million rides in fiscal 2011. Last year, usage increased to roughly 7.2 million rides, according to Johnson.