Federal grants target idling buses

The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is helping America's public transit agencies make start-stop and anti-idle buses a priority.

Research has shown that idling engines of heavy-duty and light-duty vehicles wastes approximately 6 billion gallons of fuel and produces about 60 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year. Approximately 50 percent of that idling is done by commercial vehicles, including transit buses.

As has happened with personal vehicles, technology is making it easier to avoid idling in large transit buses. Systems have been developed that make it possible for buses to use start-stop features to cut engine idling significantly even while important onboard systems are operating.

Anti-idle buses also get approximately 33 percent better fuel economy than traditional hybrid buses and twice that of normal diesel buses.

FTA capital grants are making it possible for transportation authorities to add no-idle buses to their fleets.

“We are seeing significant fuel economy benefits with the two pilot buses programmed with the new stop-start function,” Red Rose Transit and Berks Area Regional Transit Authority Executive Director Dave Kilmer said. Red Rose Transit in Lancaster County and Berks Area Regional Transit Authority in Berks County, Pennsylvania, recently were awarded a MAP-21 Low or No Emission Vehicle grant from FTA to purchase 17 anti-idle buses.

"Our customers and drivers have told us these hybrid buses with start-stop capabilities are much quieter,” Kilmer said.

An FTA also recently awarded the Utah Transit Authority a grant to upgrade two paratransit service buses with hybrid systems.

Through these grants, FTA officials hope more anti-idling buses will be put into use across the nation.