Helsinki Region Transport (HSL) to test two hybrid buses in actual service
Low-emission buses’ winter handling is among items under scrutiny
Helsinki commuters will get their first chance to ride on new hybrid buses on New Year’s Day.
Two new hybrid buses will be tested on the bus line 24 from Erottaja to Seurasaari, because the line in question represents typical jerky stop-start downtown travel, explains Helsinki Region Transport (HSL) transport services director Reijo Mäkinen.
The use of a hybrid bus reduces particle and nitrogen oxide emissions by up to 30-40 per cent compared with a diesel bus. At the same time the fuel consumption is reduced by about a third.
The most obvious difference, however, between a standard bus and a hybrid version is the silent and vibration-free start. The roar of the diesel engine is not there. From traffic lights and bus stops the hybrid bus sets off by using its electric engine.
As far as its handling is concerned, a hybrid bus does not differ much from regular buses. That said, a much better anticipation of the traffic situations ahead is required from the driver, reckons driver Lasse Laaksonen from the Helsingin Bussiliikenne bus company.
Next week, the training of around 80 drivers begins: the special features of a hybrid bus will be taught on a one-day course.
The bus line 24 serves first and foremost residents of the Töölö district. The bus also travels past the President’s official residence Mäntyniemi, so it will be easy for the present and the new President to familiarise themselves with the new bus type.
Next summer the buses will be changed to serve other routes instead, for because of the large tourist crowds longer buses are needed on the Seurasaari line.
When it comes to the air quality in downtown Helsinki, the two hybrid buses will not make a radical difference. On weekdays there are 1,300 traditional buses operating in the region.
With the experiment, above all, HSL wants to gain experiences of the buses’ winter performance. So far Volvo has provided 400 hybrid buses to different European countries, and for example in Norway 15 units coped with last winter very well.
A traditional diesel bus costs around a quarter of a million euros and a hybrid about 30 per cent more, says managing director Jukka Nikkanen from Volvo Bus Finland. The lower fuel costs will make up for the higher purchase price in about seven years, Nikkanen estimates.
According to Nikkanen, actual electric buses will be introduced in the near future.
“Next year Volvo will begin test drives with three plug-in hybrid buses in Gothenburg, Sweden. Their batteries will be topped up quickly during the stops”, Nikkanen explains.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Half of Finland´s hybrid taxis operate in Helsinki region (18.12.2009)
Helsinki may introduce hybrid buses already next year (10.12.2007)
Helsinki Region Transport (HSL)