Pace shows off one of the agency's new hybrid buses on Tuesday. The diesel-electric buses will serve Highland Park and neighboring communities. (Brian Cassella, Chicago Tribune)
Pace trying out 2 hybrid buses
Agency hopes diesel-electric test will lead to more fuel-efficient vehicles
April 11, 2012|By Richard Wronski, Chicago Tribune reporter
Two new diesel-electric hybrid buses designed to reduce emissions and improve fuel economy are now operating on Pace routes in the Highland Park area, the suburban bus agency said Tuesday.
Although Pace has used hybrid paratransit vans in the west and northwest suburbs, this is the agency's first experiment with 30-foot hybrid buses. The CTA has had several dozen diesel-electric buses since 2009.
Officials said they hope the buses will pave the way for more "green technology" vehicles, including those fueled by compressed natural gas.
"We're always looking at ways to reduce our carbon footprint," Pace Chairman Rick Kwasneski said. "If these (buses) work well, we'll bring more of them into our system."
The two buses were ordered in late 2010 at a cost of roughly $525,000 each from Orion Bus Industries Inc. The hybrids, manufactured by Orion in Mississauga, Ontario, and Oriskany, N.Y., feature a green paint scheme with white accents, differentiating them from Pace's familiar blue and white buses.
The hybrids cost more than diesel-only buses, which run about $288,000. But because the manufacturer estimates the hybrids are 25 percent more fuel-efficient, Pace hopes the new vehicles will be more cost-effective over their normal 12-year life span, Kwasneski said.
The buses are powered by a drive system that switches between an electric motor and a diesel engine to conserve fuel and reduce exhaust emissions, Pace said.
The emission-control system also uses a special filter to trap soot and other matter in the diesel exhaust, Pace said.
The new buses will operate on two routes.
Route 471 operates weekdays and Saturdays between Highland Park and Deerfield, providing service to Metra's Union Pacific North Highland Park Station, the Milwaukee District North Deerfield Station and Deerbrook Shopping Center.
Route 472 operates weekdays and Saturdays between downtown Highland Park and Fort Sheridan, including the Highland Park Metra Station, Highland Park High School, Highland Park Hospital and Highwood.