News   Oct 27, 2020
 521     2 
News   Oct 27, 2020
 540     0 
News   Oct 27, 2020
 570     1 

TTC: Electric and alternative fuel buses

Wrenkin

Active Member
Member Bio
Joined
Apr 24, 2012
Messages
268
Reaction score
13
What exactly is the benefit of trolly busses vs. traditional busses, other than the lack of local emissions and lower energy costs? The only thing I can think of is faster acceleration and more torque due to the electric motor and rubber tires. Furthermore, once the technology in battery powered busses improves, trolly busses will have no benefit over them other than perhaps the lack of expensive battery swaps every few years. I think we're better off holding off on trolly busses until battery powered busses have matured.
They're more expensive but I think they last slightly longer. In my experience they're a much more pleasant ride because they're quieter and don't vibrate as much. They're also much quieter from the outside, which I noticed when a route in my old neighbourhood converted to diesel. But there are lots of wires so I suppose some would say you have to balance the sonic effects against the visual.

The torque thing may party explain why hilly cities out west like them.
 

ehlow

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Mar 2, 2013
Messages
3,496
Reaction score
143
Location
Yonge & Eglinton
What exactly is the benefit of trolly busses vs. traditional busses, other than the lack of local emissions and lower energy costs? The only thing I can think of is faster acceleration and more torque due to the electric motor and rubber tires. Furthermore, once the technology in battery powered busses improves, trolly busses will have no benefit over them other than perhaps the lack of expensive battery swaps every few years. I think we're better off holding off on trolly busses until battery powered busses have matured.
They are also quieter like streetcars.. One could argue that, like streetcars, they are much nicer to the pedestrian environment, ex. a street with patios.
 

TheTigerMaster

Superstar
Member Bio
Joined
Feb 3, 2012
Messages
12,752
Reaction score
5,252
Location
Best Toronto
But there are lots of wires so I suppose some would say you have to balance the sonic effects against the visual.
Those wires are also a lot of infrastructure that will need continual maintenance. And it's not just the wire themselves, but also all the supportive infrastructure, such as substations located strategically along routes.

Electric busses require less physical infrastructure; typically wireless rapid charging pads located in stations and wired chargers at the garages. But batteries are consumables and will need to be replaced every few years at significant cost. As electric vehicles become more prevalent, the cost of these replacements will decrease dramatically.

Right now I'd be wiling to bet that the costs of these replacements make electric busses uneconomical compared to trollies, but I'd expect this situation to change dramatically in the next 10 years. I'd be very surprised if the TTC doesn't at least consider going electric whenever our next generation of busses are up for replacement in 25 years or so.
 

TheTigerMaster

Superstar
Member Bio
Joined
Feb 3, 2012
Messages
12,752
Reaction score
5,252
Location
Best Toronto
They are also quieter like streetcars.. One could argue that, like streetcars, they are much nicer to the pedestrian environment, ex. a street with patios.
In fact, I'd expect trollies and battery powered busses to be quieter than streetcars, since they don't use loud steel wheels.
 

Johnny Au

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Apr 4, 2010
Messages
6,749
Reaction score
1,747
Location
Near the North York, York, & Old Toronto tripoint
The former system is completely irrelevant, most of the old trolley bus routes wouldn't make the cut for a new system. Much of the substation infrastructure was shared with the streetcar system and the subway. A new system woudl operate on heavier bus routes such as Dufferin, Wilson, Jane, etc. There would be no trolley buses running on Mt. Pleasant, that's for sure.
With regards to Dufferin, they should be able to climb steep hills (especially between Davenport and Eglinton).
 

EnviroTO

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Apr 22, 2007
Messages
3,948
Reaction score
62
Location
Yonge & Mt.Pleasant
What exactly is the benefit of trolly busses vs. traditional busses, other than the lack of local emissions and lower energy costs? The only thing I can think of is faster acceleration and more torque due to the electric motor and rubber tires. Furthermore...
Wait, this is an argument that they aren't worthwhile? The TTC's operational expenses are people, energy, and maintenance. The quicker a vehicle gets from A to B the lower the personnel costs for the trip, lower energy costs are self explanatory, and electric motors are far easier to maintain.
 

TheTigerMaster

Superstar
Member Bio
Joined
Feb 3, 2012
Messages
12,752
Reaction score
5,252
Location
Best Toronto
Wait, this is an argument that they aren't worthwhile? The TTC's operational expenses are people, energy, and maintenance. The quicker a vehicle gets from A to B the lower the personnel costs for the trip, lower energy costs are self explanatory, and electric motors are far easier to maintain.
How much faster will faster acceleration get the vehicles from A to B? If that is the only benefit of trolly busses, then we'd probably be better off investing in bus ROWs, HOV lanes, signal priority, all door boarding, curb cuts, vehicle tracking systems and other initiatives to improve travel times.

All door boarding alone will almost certainly improve travel times more than faster acceleration due to high torque electric motors would.
 

JayBeeGooner

Active Member
Member Bio
Joined
Sep 28, 2012
Messages
586
Reaction score
30
King County Metro (Seattle) is currently testing a New Flyer Trolley Bus and is expected to receive the first of 141 buses soon.
ETB's perform better than diesel buses on hilly routes and require less maintenance overall. They cost considerably more than a conventional bus and you have to string up wires.
Many modern ETB's have off-wire capability, which is a bonus.
 

ehlow

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Mar 2, 2013
Messages
3,496
Reaction score
143
Location
Yonge & Eglinton
How much faster will faster acceleration get the vehicles from A to B? If that is the only benefit of trolly busses, then we'd probably be better off investing in bus ROWs, HOV lanes, signal priority, all door boarding, curb cuts, vehicle tracking systems and other initiatives to improve travel times.

All door boarding alone will almost certainly improve travel times more than faster acceleration due to high torque electric motors would.
I like trolley buses personally, but honestly it's not worth it for the majority of applications here. No one at Finch & Leslie cares about the noise from the bus. The noise & exhaust factor only matters downtown where people are walking & sitting on the street right by the street on patios sipping their lattes (ha ha).

I think bus ROWs & bus lanes and all door boarding are the biggest "bang for the buck" to improve our bus lines. Of course, they have to be enforced and clearly marked, and you'll get complaints from drivers that you're taking their lanes for transit.

I'd love to see really frequent, fast, and efficient bus lines with artic buses throughout the suburbs, with things to make the experience better like heated stations maybe and next-bus arrival displays (which many already have of course).
 

mpd618

Active Member
Member Bio
Joined
Jun 29, 2009
Messages
420
Reaction score
41
Location
Kitchener
For me, trolley buses are closer to trams / streetcars than to diesel buses in the quality of the experience. The ride is smoother, they are quieter, and the air is fresher. Riding in diesel city buses gives me a headache more often than not.
 

W. K. Lis

Superstar
Member Bio
Joined
Dec 24, 2007
Messages
17,785
Reaction score
6,488
Location
Toronto, ON, CAN, Terra, Sol, Milky Way
Los Angeles' Metro takes extra-long electric bus for test drive on the Orange Line

From this link:

The Lancaster, named after the city where it was built by BYD Motors Inc., is entirely electric and features the accordion-like articulation of L.A.'s extra-long buses. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

ith a faint hum about as loud as a Toyota Prius, 60 feet of transportation history rounds a corner in a Lancaster parking lot.Fresh from a test run on Los Angeles' Metro Orange Line last week, it is the country's first electric articulated bus.

"It's an opportunity for there to be a renaissance in public transportation," said James Holtz, fleet sales manager for manufacturer BYD Motors Inc.

The Lancaster bus can hold up to 120 passengers. In tests on Metro's Orange Line, the bus was praised for its smooth ride and quietness by drivers and passengers, said a BYD Motors Inc. official. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

The bus runs on eight lithium iron phosphate battery modules, four to a side, that provide enough charge for more than 170 miles, Holtz said. In lab tests, the batteries have a life cycle of about 27 years, about twice the life span of an average bus, he said. The bus can hold up to 120 passengers.
------------
FOR THE RECORD
Dec. 30, 10:48 a.m.: This online article stated that the electric articulated bus runs on eight battery modules. The bus carries 59 battery modules.
------------

The zero-emission bus, named the Lancaster after its birthplace at the BYD manufacturing facility, was unveiled in October at the American Public Transportation Assn. Expo in Houston. Its next big appearance was on the Orange Line, where Holtz said the bus was praised for its quietness.

Electric buses themselves are not so uncommon. Cities around the country already run these types of buses, including San Antonio, Pomona and the Tri-Cities area in Washington state. Stanford University also operates a 40-foot bus, which was BYD's first U.S. electric bus order. But none of those electric buses bear the accordion-like articulation of L.A.'s extra-long bus.

James Holtz, fleet sales manager for BYD Motors Inc., points out some of the battery modules used to power the 60-foot electric bus. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority has submitted an order for 25 of BYD's 40-foot electric buses, said Brendan Riley, vice president of sales for BYD Motors Inc. But it has not ordered the articulated electric one, which is still being shown around several cities.

Gary Spivack, division transportation manager for Metro, said the testing of the articulated electric bus was positive; operators enjoyed driving the bus based on the smooth ride and quiet inside, and passengers enjoyed being in the bus, he said.

"It was a successful test," Spivack said. "It's striking in terms of its appearance."

He said Metro hasn't made up its mind about ordering the 60-foot bus, saying range is a paramount issue when it comes to any electric bus.

"We need something that goes 250 miles a day," Spivack said.

The cost for the electric articulated bus is about $1.2 million, Riley said. In contrast, a comparable natural-gas articulated bus sells for $800,000.

BYD plans to take the Lancaster up and down the state, from the Bay Area to San Diego, and up the coast, to Portland and areas of Washington, to showcase it, Holtz said. Ultimately, the bus will go to Altoona, Pa., for testing.

BYD might be new to the bus manufacturing game in the U.S., but in China, where BYD is headquartered, it has been manufacturing cars for 11 years and buses for at least 5, Holtz said.

The company got its start in battery manufacturing, and produces about 30-40% of the world's cellphone batteries, Holtz said.

Back in Lancaster, bus operator Peter Balian starts the vehicle with the push of a button and drives around the parking lot of the manufacturing facility. He's only been driving buses for eight months, but he said his previous work driving a tow truck, as well as working at Metrolink, made the transition relatively easy.

Balian said he enjoyed driving the large bus.

"It has a lot of power," he said, "and it grabs a lot of attention."
BTW. Los Angeles' fare box recovery ratio is about 30.6%, while Toronto's fare box recovery ratio is about 73%. Nice what you can experiment with when you have the funds to do so.
 

Bruno Republic

Active Member
Member Bio
Joined
Feb 20, 2009
Messages
186
Reaction score
78
For me, trolley buses are closer to trams / streetcars than to diesel buses in the quality of the experience. The ride is smoother...
One thing I recall quite clearly about the TTC's trolley buses was that the ride was not smooth at all. It seemed it wasn't possible for the driver to gently accelerate; there was always a sudden jump as the vehicle began to move which could be quite awkward if I was standing at the time.
 

Top