Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Ann Arbor campus welcomes three more hybrid buses

Three more diesel-electric hybrid buses joined the U-M Ann Arbor fleet this month, bringing the total number of hybrid buses on campus to seven.

Since the university rolled out its first four hybrid buses six months ago, it has seen a 30 percent improvement in fuel economy and reduced emissions for those buses. These efforts are part of President Mary Sue Coleman's broad sustainability initiative, which includes the goal to reduce green house gas emissions.


University officials estimate the seven hybrid buses will provide an annual fuel savings of approximately $44,000 (based on current fuel prices) over a diesel bus. There are 42 buses in the university’s fleet.

"Adding hybrid buses to our fleet is another step in our commitment to sustainability," says Keith Johnson, associate director of transportation operations. "One in six university buses is now a hybrid, and the long-term goal is an entire fleet of highly efficient vehicles."

The 40-foot buses — sporting a maize-and-blue color scheme and new graphic treatment — use a roof-mounted battery system to supplement their diesel engines, allowing for better fuel mileage and lower emissions.

Hybrid technology is especially beneficial for vehicles that encounter frequent stop-and-go traffic, like campus buses. When the brakes are applied, a generator converts the energy released from deceleration into electrical energy, which is stored in a battery and used when the bus accelerates.

In addition to the new buses, the university purchased an additional 30 hybrid sedans. The sedans are available to faculty, staff and students for authorized university business travel, both local and long distance.

The university operates one of the largest alternative-energy vehicle fleets among universities in the United States, with 526 vehicles running on E-85 fuel, 96 vehicles using bio-diesel, 56 hybrid electric passenger vehicles, and 15 all-electric vehicles. Renewable energy sources comprise 17 percent of the total transportation energy at U-M.

Parking & Transportation Services will continue to evaluate the number of vehicles needed in the fleet and, when those vehicles are due to be replaced, will consider alternative energy or the most fuel-efficient vehicles possible for the vehicle application.

This video shows how the new hybrid buses are given their distinctive maize-and-blue graphic scheme.