New York City Switches to Diesel Hybrid-Electric Buses
New York City Transit, which has been under pressure for years to reduce harmful emissions from its bus fleet, has decided to buy hybrid-electric buses instead of those that use compressed natural gas, a significant shift in its strategy for gradually replacing diesel fuels with cleaner ones.
The decision, to be presented for the first time tomorrow, suggests that the agency will no longer buy both types of clean-fuel vehicles and will focus entirely on the hybrids, which run on diesel and electricity. Hybrid buses began running as a pilot project in September 1998 and entered regular service in April 2004. So far, 325 hybrid buses, or 7 percent of the total fleet of 4,512, have been ordered. Now, the agency hopes to buy up to 500 more.
Officials have argued that the gas vehicles require expensive maintenance facilities and that the hybrid buses are just as clean. But the shift away from compressed natural gas could be controversial. In 1998, Gov. George E. Pataki promised to convert the huge Manhattanville Bus Depot into a compressed natural gas center, a decision supported by West Harlem residents who believed that diesel bus depots had contributed to high rates of childhood asthma, other respiratory ailments and cancer.
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