Custom Search
January 23rd, 2014
Natural Gas Transforms Metropolitan Bus Systems
By Dale Roethlisberger

The production of Natural Gas in the U.S. has surpassed all previous records and is an economic boom in its own right. On the other hand, this increased supply of natural gas has changed metropolitan bus transportation systems even more. It is rare to see a bus in most major cities these days that does not tout that it runs on ‘clean’ natural gas.

There are a number of reasons this transformation has taken place over a handful of recent years. First, current gas production techniques have radically changed the amount of natural gas available. Furthermore, with such abundance, the price has decreased greatly making natural gas more economical.

Read the rest of this entry »

October 21st, 2010
Electric Bus Possibilities Abound With New Fuel Cells
By Dale Roethlisberger

Bloom Energy is moving towards full market availability from their research and development stage and trial product with select customers for its fuel cell technology. While their fuel cell products appear to be for commercial buildings in the start-up phase, the technology itself doesn’t appear to have any engineering barrier to deployment in a transportation environment. Their product uses a wide range of fuel types and has low emission by-products.

Applying these fuel cells to a bus, with its larger form factor should be possible with a minimum of engineering and design. Early adoption of this technology, while expensive at first, would accelerate the market affordability as production ramps up.

August 11th, 2009
The Hybrid Bus Is Finally Here
By Dale Roethlisberger

A handful of bus manufacturers are now selling or taking orders to deliver hybrid buses during this and next years model cycle. There have been some ‘experimental’ or ‘demonstration’ hybrid buses available for a few years now, but the 2009 and 2010 model years appear to be the time when full production models become part of the mix. For a variety of reasons, the ability of the manufacturers to ramp up hybrid bus production has been hampered by competing fuel technologies, such as natural gas fuel, or limitations in the fuel/electric/battery technology to achieve better mileage characteristics. When you add in the new technology increase in base cost to bring such a vehicle to market, the hybrid bus has previously been just beyond the normal budget for municipalities and bus fleet operators. New pricing and lifetime operating expenses are now much more economically viable. When future supply of petroleum resources indicate an ever upward spiral in fuel costs, it is highly likely that the hybrid bus will gain a significant share of future bus sales.

Read the rest of this entry »

February 16th, 2009
Pickens Plan Has It Right About Buses
By Dale Roethlisberger

We are well aware that T Boone Pickens is primarily interested in selling some of his huge holdings of natural gas. Aside from that, he is correct in pointing out that America does have a large supply of domestically produced natural gas. Furthermore, that natural gas when liquefied is a cleaner fuel when used to power internal combustion engines and is generally cheaper than petroleum based fuels. In addition, it is relatively straightforward and not prohibitively expensive to convert many types of vehicles to use liquefied natural gas as their fuel source. In fact, in most major metropolitan areas one does see numerous vehicles including buses, utility trucks, and even taxicabs that indicate they are operating on ‘clean’ natural gas technology.

Read the rest of this entry »

March 19th, 2008
Is There A Mini Bus In Your Future
By Jeffrey Goodman

With gas prices expected to near four dollars a gallon by the early summer, many Americans will be turning to mass transportation to get around town without emptying their wallets. In major cities with high population densities, commuters have a whole range of options, but in the suburbs – a built environment designed around private automobile usage – the pickings may be slimmer, even non-existent.  Perhaps the combi, a little-known transportation system from the developing world, could change the way suburbanites travel through their space.

While the combi itself is nothing to write home about – just a large ten passenger van with a driver and a cobrador, or conductor – the way combis are organized make them perfect for navigating the sprawling world of the suburbs. Though they follow set routes like traditional buses, combis lack specific stops, picking up and dropping off passengers at any point along their route. Because of their smaller size, a combi could go where larger buses would not be welcome, such as in housing developments and big-box parking lots. This increased flexibility could allow a combi line to be more responsive to where riders actually travel than the bureaucracy-minded municipal systems.

In a country where car ownership has long been equated with economic success, many people will have to overcome their transportation bias and get on board the bus to the future.