The Hybrids Petition for Dutchess County sign now

Do you think that all of Dutchess County's buses and vans, along with the vast majority of our county vehicle fleet otherwise, should be converted as soon as possible to hybrids-- as they have been proven over and over again across the country to save money for taxpayers in the end on maintenance and fuel costs, along with much less air pollution and carbon emissions, saving money for taxpayers on Medicaid/health care-related costs, especially as federal and state programs can help pay for them?

If you agree with us that this is just simple common sense, sign on to this petition, pass it along to all you know, and send a letter to [email protected]

Besides the City of Poughkeepsie right here in Dutchess County ordering four hybrid buses, Broome County getting six hybrid buses, and Westchester County going hybrid, and New York City already has 824 hybrid buses on the road (with another 850 ordered to arrive soon), "Transit agencies in New York City, Seattle, San Francisco, and other cities around the country are investing in hybrid diesel buses, which promise to be more fuel efficient and lower emitting than conventional diesel buses-- in Albuquerque, NM, Austin, TX, Baltimore, MD, Charlotte, NC, Chicago, IL, Cleveland, OH, Eugene, OR, Hartford/Stamford, CT, Honolulu, HI, Houston, TX, Indianapolis, IN, Louisville, KY, Norwalk, CA, Orange County, CA, Philadelphia, PA, Pittsburgh, PA, Portland, OR, San Joaquin, CA, Salt Lake City, UT, Seattle/King County, WA, Shreveport, LA, Springfield, MA, St. Paul, MN, Yosemite National Park, CA, Roosevelt Island, NY, and San Francisco, CA. [see ]

Thanks much to Red Hook County Legislator Tom Mansfield for his efforts on this earlier in the year; the Citibus hybrid bus he and I proposed this year to replace some of the smaller LOOP buses to be replaced pays for itself in five years due to lower fuel and maintenance costs, emits 95\% less carbon monoxide, 77\% less nitrogen oxides, and 51\% less particulate matter than regular diesel buses, and as Tom points out, NYSERDA's Clean City Challenge grant program can be used to recoup up to 75\% of the cost difference (last year I initiated the effort for our county to get serious about purchase of hybrid vehicles as part of bond purchase).

Ball's in your court now, folks (see much more on this below).

Joel Tyner
Dutchess County Legislature Environmental Committee Chair
County Legislator (Clinton/Rhinebeck)
324 Browns Pond Road
Staatsburg, NY 12580
[email protected]
(845) 876-2488

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Arcola Bus Sales: Citibus Hybrid HD Senator

By improving fuel economy by up to 50\%, the CitiBus deliversongoing cost savings. Furthermore, the CitiBus produces approximately 33\% less Global Green House Gases. The CitiBus powertrain has no transmission, no starter motor and less wear on brakes as a result of regenerative braking resulting in lower maintenance costs. Azure Dynamics develops and manufactures hybrid electric and electric drive systems for commercial truck and bus fleet operators. Azure's drive systems provide a significant, positive and sustainable impact on the business success of our customers and on the quality and integrity of the environment. The company is strongly committed to building quality products, having successfully completed commercial testing for 17 buses at the Federal Transit Administration's Altoona Bus Testing Center. Azure and StarTrans have partnered to produce the hybrid electric CitiBus for urban transit applications. The purchase of new buses for a commercial or city fleet is a major decision, with a range of factors to be considered. The capital cost of the CitiBus is somewhat higher than a shuttle bus powered by a conventional engine, but life cycle costs such as fuel and maintenance reductions counter balance this issue.

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"City of Poughkeepsie Transit is the municipal bus system serving the City of Poughkeepsie, New York as well as parts of the Town of Poughkeepsie and Hyde Park. In early 2008, delivery of five new buses will be taken which will allow for the replacement of the older buses in the fleet and a bus for new services. Four of these buses will be low-floor, diesel-electric hybrid buses while a fifth will be replica trolley to be used for a new route in the development stage."
[from ]

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Westchester County Launches its First Orion VII Hybrid Buses
DaimlerChrysler Orion VII Hybrid Buses are Westchesters First Green Transportation Vehicle; Orion buses are manufactured in Oneida County, in Oriskany, N.Y.

WESTCHESTER, N.Y. (July 17, 2006) The Westchester County Department of Transportation (WCDOT) launched today its first diesel-electric hybrid bus on its Bee-Line system this morning at the Bee-Line Valhalla Bus facility [now at least four]...The Orion VII diesel-electric hybrid bus greatly reduces emissions with up to 90 percent less particulate matter, 40 percent less NOx and 25 percent less greenhouse gas emissions. Along with a 30 percent increase in fuel economy and reduced maintenance costs, the Orion VII provides the ideal solution for the high demands of urban mass transit.

A study conducted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory found earlier this year that the Orion VII hybrids had up to 45 percent better fuel economy than conventional diesel buses and 100 percent improvement compared to natural gas on an energy-equivalent basis. New York Citys hybrid fleet consists entirely of Orion VII buses.

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"Hybrid Buses: Costs and Benefits" [from the Environmental and Energy Study Institute]\%20Sheets/Clean\%20Bus\%20and\%20Health\%20Fact\%20Sheets/Hybridbusfactsheet_final.PDF

In 2005, more than 60 percent of the 9.7 billion transit passenger trips in the United States
were provided by buses, approximately 84 percent of which are powered by diesel
combustion engines.

Diesel exhaust contains ozone precursors, benzene, arsenic, dioxins, formaldehyde and other
toxic substances and is a significant contributor to airborne concentrations of fine particulate
matter (PM). Significant health impacts including lung damage and premature death are
associated with exposure to fine particulate matter. It can also aggravate conditions such as
asthma and bronchitis. Diesel exhaust has also been classified as a probable human
carcinogen with no known safe level of exposure.

Hybrid buses are estimated to cut emissions by as much as 75 percent when compared to conventional diesel buses. The emissions reductions are a function of the electric drive, ultra low-sulfur diesel (ULSD) fuel use in conjunction with particulate trap technology and improved fuel economy from the
hybrid system.

In-use testing and industry reports indicate that particulate matter (PM) emissions from hybrid
buses equipped with particulate matter filters are almost 90 percent lower than a
conventional diesel bus without a particulate filter.

According to a study conducted by the Northeast Advanced Vehicle Coalition (NAVC) to
demonstrate energy efficiency and emissions performance of diesel-electric hybrid buses,
nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions for diesel hybrids were 30 to 40 percent lower than
conventional diesel vehicles.

Diesel hybrid buses exhibited the lowest carbon monoxide (CO) emissions of any of the
buses tested including CNG and conventional diesel.

Hybrids demonstrated lower greenhouse gas emissions than those of a conventional diesel bus
or CNG powered bus as a result of improved fuel economy.

A separate evaluation by New York City Transit (NYCT) reports significant emissions reductions
for the Orion VII buses equipped with BAE Systems' series hybrid drive.

Hybrid buses typically exhibit performance levels comparable to their non-hybrid
counterparts. Transit agencies report that acceleration in hybrid-electric buses is smoother and
faster due to the increased low-end torque characteristics of electric motors.

Quieter Operation: Although there has been little systematic testing of hybrid buses for
noise emissions, anecdotal evidence from bus drivers and passengers suggests that hybrid
buses offer a quieter ride when compared to conventional diesel buses.

Reduced Costs: The hybrid buses are expected to have lower maintenance costs due to
reduced stress and maintenance on mechanical components such as brake linings, which may
extend brake life by 50 - 100 percent. In addition, the electric drive has fewer parts, therefore
requiring less maintenance than a traditional transmission.

Results from the evaluation indicate that the hybrid buses offered on average, a 37 percent
improvement in fuel economy over standard diesel buses.

Currently hybrid buses carry a large price premium over conventional diesel buses. The average price of a 40-foot hybrid bus typically ranges from $450,000 - $550,000 when compared to $280,000 - $300,000 for a conventional diesel bus. The price variation in hybrids is due to the order volumes and individual specifications of transit agencies.

However the price differential for hybrids can be offset by various federal incentives and grant
programs. Assuming that a standard diesel bus costs $300,000 and a hybrid bus costs $500,000, the incremental cost of purchasing a hybrid is $200,000. The federal Clean Fuels Grant Program covers 90 percent of the incremental cost of alternative fuel buses, including hybrids. In addition, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) covers up to 80 percent of the purchase price of a standard
diesel bus.

Therefore a transit agency's share of matching funds for a hybrid is $80,000 when compared to
$60,000 for a conventional diesel. This translates to an incremental cost of only $20,000 to
purchase a hybrid over a conventional diesel bus. As the technology matures and the market
develops, the cost differential for hybrids is likely to decrease.

In addition, a year-long evaluation from NREL indicates that operational costs for hybrids are 15
percent lower than conventional diesel buses. According to their evaluation, King County Transit's
60-foot articulated New Flyer buses equipped with GM-Allison's parallel hybrid drive cost less to
operate and maintain when compared to regular diesel buses. These cost savings, based on a diesel fuel price of $1.98, are likely to increase even further as diesel fuel prices continue to sky rocket.
[see ]

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From ...

Broome County Transit Orders Six Hybrid Electric Buses
by WBNG News

Today, on the eve of Earth Day, Broome County Executive Barbara Fiala was joined by Congressman Hinchey and Jim Garceau BAE Systems Site Executive to announce the addition of six hybrid electric buses to the Broome County (B.C.) Transit fleet in late 2008; marking the introduction of this clean and efficient technology to the areas mass transit system. BAE Systems will provide the hybrid propulsion systems from its plant in Johnson City, where the technology now used by transit agencies from coast to coast was developed.

The introduction of hybrid buses to the B.C. Transit fleet is a significant step in our efforts to become a more green community and reduce energy costs, County Executive Barbara Fiala said in announcing the countys decision to buy six Orion VII-model hybrid buses from Daimler Commercial Buses North America. I want to thank NYSERDA and Congressman Hinchey for supporting the new additions to our fleet. Its doubly gratifying that the drive systems for the hybrid busses will be built here by BAE Systems, one of our premier local companies.

B.C. Transit will spend $3,180,000 in total for the six new busses. Funding for this purchase was provided by both the New York Sate Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and Congressman Maurice Hinchey. NYSERDA granted $1,150,000 to the county to upgrade the engines of new buses to include Hybrid technology.

Congressman Hinchey used his position on the House Appropriations Committee to secure more than $3 million in federal funds for Broome County to purchase the hybrid buses. The congressman is one of the leading proponents of renewable energy technology in the House. Last year, Hinchey helped establish The Solar Energy Consortium -- a new industry-driven, non-profit organization that provides leadership, organization, resources, and support for the establishment of a major solar energy industry cluster in New York. TSEC has partnered with six research universities across New York, including Binghamton University.

Hinchey stated, "By introducing six new hybrid buses into its public transportation system, Broome County is serving as a green energy model for the rest of upstate New York. A critical part of the energy crisis solution must include local government investment in alternative energy vehicles that will reduce emissions and lower energy costs. I'm very pleased that I was able secure more than $3 million for Broome County to purchase these hybrid buses and move the county in a much more environmentally-friendly direction. This is a great way to celebrate Earth Day this year, but the best is yet to come as we work to bring even more hybrid buses to Broome County."

Locally, BAE Systems will use the six buses as a living laboratory to further its ongoing development of hybrid vehicle technology. Under this agreement, BAE Systems will use the local hybrid fleet to test equipment and software enhancements as it seeks to continually improve vehicle performance and efficiency.

BAE Systems, the worlds leading producer of hybrid propulsion systems for transit buses, developed its HybriDrive propulsion system in Johnson City in the 1990s. The systems are used extensively by transit authorities in New York City, San Francisco, and Toronto, having accumulated more than 50 million miles of service and in the process, preventing 50,000 tons of carbon emissions. The technology soon will be introduced to the transit fleets in Houston, Ottawa, and London. Daimler builds the buses at its upstate manufacturing facility in Oriskany, NY (Oneida County)...

Buses using the HybriDrive system pollute significantly less and deliver up to 35 percent better fuel economy than similar diesel buses. The Broome County buses will use BAE Systems latest technology development, a lithium-ion energy storage system that is lighter and lasts longer than traditional lead-acid batteries.

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"New York City Orders 850 Hybrid Transit Buses"
by Chuck Squatriglia December 18, 2007

The largest transit agency in North America has ordered 850 diesel-electric buses and will have the world's largest fleet of hybrids when the vehicles hit the streets of New York in 2010.
The Metropolitan Transit Authority's latest, and biggest, order for Daimler's Orion VII buses will double the number of hybrids in its fleet. Diesel-electric vehicles will comprise almost half of the rolling stock used by the agency's New York City Transit and MTA Bus systems once the vehicles are delivered, officials said.

Daimler said the buses use about 30 percent less fuel than conventional models. The Orion VII is a series hybrid, meaning it is powered entirely by an electric motor. The small diesel engine runs a generator that charges the vehicle's lithium-ion battery. The buses also use regenerative braking in which braking forces produce current to charge the batteries. Daimler claims the Orion VII emits 90 percent less soot than conventional buses because the diesel engine runs at a nearly constant speed.

Transit systems around the world are increasingly turning to hybrids to reduce pollution and fuel costs. Daimler said OC Transpo of Ottawa ordered 202 Orion VII buses on Monday, bringing to 2,600 the number of Orion buses ordered since it launched the hybrid model four years ago.
Studies have shown diesel-electric hybrids generate 75 percent fewer emissions than diesel-only models and a 37 percent improvement in fuel economy. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory found operating costs for the parallel-hybrid buses King County Metro Transit in Seattle uses were 15 percent less than conventional buses.

Austin, Chicago, Philadelphia and San Francisco are among the major American cities experimenting with hybrid buses. London wants to replace its entire fleet of 8,000 buses with hybrid models-- yes, there are hybrid double-decker buses-- beginning in 2012, a move officials said would cut carbon dioxide emissions by 200,000 tons annually

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"Daimler Hybrid Bus Sales Surge Ahead"
by Mike Brosnan [Hybrid Car 12/17/07]

Mississauga, Ontario Daimler Buses North America has received orders totalling 1,052 Orion VII Next Generation diesel-electric hybrid transit buses from some of North Americas largest transit authorities.MTA New York City Transit has ordered 850 and the City of Ottawa (OC Transpo) 202 Orion VII Next Generation diesel-electric hybrid transit buses. These buses will be powered by BAE Systems HybridDrive diesel-electric hybrid propulsion system and delivered into 2010. With already 1,100 diesel-electric hybrid transit buses on the road, 460 pending deliveries and the announced new orders of almost 1,052 units, Orion received over 2,600 orders since the launch of the Orion hybrid bus in 2003.

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"Making City Buses Run Cleaner Yields a Big Bonus: Fewer Trips to the Gas Pump"
by William Neuman [NY Times 6/14/08]

When you buy 55 million gallons of diesel fuel a year to power some 5,000 buses, even small improvements in fuel efficiency can make a big difference.

For several years, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has been on a mission to cut the amount of pollution coming from its buses, buying ones with hybrid engines and switching to a cleaner type of diesel fuel. As part of that drive to cut emissions, it has also pushed to get more mileage out of every gallon of diesel fuel. And now with the price of fuel soaring, the authority is reaping an additional benefit from that greater efficiency.

All this was done for emissions, and fuel economy came along with it, said Gary A. LaBouff, the director of research and development for the department of buses at New York City Transit. We didnt anticipate $4 a gallon diesel.

The authority is in the midst of a financial crisis, with declining tax revenues pinching its budget from one side and increased fuel costs from the other. In April alone, the authority spent $8.7 million more than it had budgeted for fuel (including for diesel locomotives), which was 56 percent above the budgeted amount.

That puts a premium on fuel efficiency.

One of the ways the authority hopes to improve its fuel efficiency is through a new type of lithium-ion battery for its hybrid buses.

The 824 hybrid buses currently on the road power their electric motors with batteries similar to traditional acid and lead car batteries. Those batteries weigh a lot and require more maintenance than officials had anticipated when they first began deploying large numbers of the hybrids about four years ago.

The new lithium-ion batteries, which were not available at the time, are similar to the batteries in rechargeable drills and other hand tools. They have been installed on four buses that have been on the road as part of a test program since January.

Earlier this week, at the Manhattanville bus depot on 133rd Street, mechanics removed a metal cover on the top of bus No. 6401 to reveal a large container that the mechanics call a battery tub. Inside were more than 2,000 paper-wrapped batteries about the size of a typical C battery, stacked up in neat rows.

Its like a whole bunch of flashlight batteries put together, Mr. LaBouff said.

While they might evoke jokes about the Energizer Bunny, the lithium cells work better than the older acid and lead batteries. They charge faster, Mr. LaBouff said, deliver more power and, it is hoped, will last longer and require less maintenance. The authority has ordered 850 new hybrid buses. The first ones, scheduled to arrive this summer, will have the old-style batteries, but by next year they will begin arriving with the lithium-ion cells.

Mr. LaBouff said that a tub of lithium-ion batteries was lighter than a tub of the old acid and lead batteries and would shave about 3,000 pounds from the weight of a 16-ton hybrid bus. That promises a significant boost in fuel efficiency, since a lighter vehicle gets more mileage from a gallon of fuel.

The authoritys old-fashioned diesel buses get about 2.5 miles per gallon, Mr. LaBouff said. The current fleet of 825 hybrid buses gets 3.2 miles per gallon (the buses thrive on stop-and-go traffic, since the braking action charges the batteries). The authority expects the lithium-ion hybrids to get about 3.5 miles per gallon.

The lithium-ion batteries cost more than their predecessors, but the authority hopes to come out ahead. It estimates that fewer hours spent on maintenance and better gas mileage will result in $50,000 in savings per bus over their 12-year life span.

Another initiative that could eke a little more distance out of each gallon of fuel is under way in Brooklyn, where sharp-eyed passengers may notice that many buses now have green caps on the tire valves.

The green valve caps indicate that the tires have been filled with pure nitrogen, a gas that is a component of air. Special compressors at several bus depots extract nitrogen from the air and store it in tanks to be pumped into the tires.

Studies have shown that nitrogen is better for tires than plain air, according to Stephen Martini, the assistant chief officer of maintenance for the department of buses. Nitrogen leaks from the tires at a slower rate, meaning they have to be filled less often. And the pressure in nitrogen-filled tires is more likely to remain constant despite fluctuations in temperature. Normally, the pressure in air-filled tires rises as they heat up and falls as they cool.

Maintaining an optimum pressure should increase the life of tires by about 10 percent, which is a primary goal of the program, Mr. Martini said. But it should also mean a small improvement in fuel mileage.

Mr. LaBouff said there were other initiatives under way that could contribute small tweaks to the bus fleets fuel efficiency. They include an adjustment to lower the acceleration rate on hybrid buses and a change in the buses software to make the engine run more economically. He said the authority had also begun using a fuel additive devised to improve engine efficiency.

For all that, Mr. LaBouff said he did not have an estimate of how much money the fuel efficiency gains were saving the authority, especially with the cost of fuel still on the rise.

The trouble is, Mr. LaBouff said, with a bitter laugh, the dollar savings is getting better every day.

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" Survey: Hybrids Cost Less Than Peers Over Long Term:
Prius Remains Highest Rated Hybrid, but All Models Excel on Total Cost of Ownership"

[Los Angeles Times article on this: ]

DETROIT, MI (January 8, 2007) - A survey released today by PRIMEDIA's, the leading source for automotive ownership cost and value analysis, reveals that the twenty-two hybrid vehicles currently on the market save their owners more money than the other vehicles in their respective classes.

"With the number of hybrids now on the market, the end of 2006 was an opportune time to examine the cost performance of each hybrid model with respect to the rest of the vehicles in their peer group," said James Bell, publisher of "Across the board, we found that all twenty-two hybrid vehicles have a better Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) over five years or 70,000 miles than the vehicles they directly compete against."

Bell said that aside from lower fuel costs, other factors playing a role in hybrids' cost performance are better-than-expected depreciation and resale value. Also, contrary to skeptics and critics, repair and maintenance costs have not proven to be higher than those of other vehicles.

"Up to now," Bell added, "The Prius has been the darling of the hybrid set, and it remains our highest rated value for hybrid vehicles. But this survey validates the cost performance of the other many hybrid models that are currently on the market. All of the hybrids in our study have achieved 'Excellent' ratings in their respective classes from"'s hybrid survey ranks hybrids in order of their performance against their peer group: brand, model, trim, five-year expected cost, and five-year actual cost.

When analyzing Total Cost of Ownership, focuses on seven key criteria, including depreciation, fuel cost, finance costs, insurance, repairs, maintenance and applicable state fees. In the case of hybrids, also factors in federal tax credits.

For the survey, 2006 model year hybrids were analyzed for their Total Cost of Ownership over a five-year or 70,000-mile period. The five-year expected Cost of Ownership for each hybrid vehicle is based on the average cost of all vehicles in each class.

"Hybrids are proving themselves to be an excellent alternative for car buyers. Even when factoring in the additional upfront costs for their purchase, the long-term savings hybrids generate makes them a sensible and attractive purchase," said Bell.

Against all criteria, found the Toyota Prius to be the best in overall class. Along with the Toyota Prius, the Honda Civic, Toyota Highlander, Ford Escape and Honda Insight also received top marks for value. Some of the top hybrids in the 2006 survey were previously awarded IntelliChoice's Best Overall Value of the Year (BOVY).'s BOVY awards recognize cars, trucks and SUVs that will cost significantly less to own than would be expected of vehicles at their purchase prices. A listing of 2006 winners and more information on the awards can be found at

About Part of PRIMEDIA's Enthusiast Media, IntelliChoice is the market leader in automotive ownership cost and value analysis. Founded in 1986, IntelliChoice is committed to empowering consumers to make better purchase decisions by providing independent and essential automotive information and tools. Through the IntelliChoice web site (, consumers get the help they need to research, compare, configure and price vehicles. The site also connects buyers to the buying alternatives of their choice, including vehicle manufacturers and online buying services.

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"PA Transit Agencies To Get Electric Hybrid Buses"
[Lebanon Daily News/Associated Press]

HARRISBURG, Pa.Electric hybrid buses are coming to five mass transportation agencies in Pennsylvania. Gov. Ed Rendell made the announcement on National Dump the Pump Day on Thursday, when people are encouraged to ride public transportation. The 14 buses include 10 paratransit buses for the York-based Rabbittransit shared-ride program. The other four are 30-foot diesel-electric buses, one each for transit agencies based in Westmoreland County, Reading, Wilkes-Barre and rural northcentral Pennsylvania. The buses will be delivered in 2009. The $4 million tab was split between state and federal money. Rendell administration officials say the buses can cost twice as much, but will save money on fuel because they are as much as 50 percent more fuel efficient. Transit agencies in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia already have hybrids.

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Fact: "In recent decades, the characteristic climate of the Northeast has begun to change dramatically. Between 1970 and 2000 alone, summer temperatures rose about one degree Fahrenheit (єF) and winter temperatures rose nearly 4 єF. Spring is arriving sooner, summers are growing hotter, and winters are becoming warmer and less snowy. Without deep cuts in heat-trapping emissions, summers in New York near the end of the century may feel as hot as Georgia summers do today. Fortunately, it's not too late to preserve the traditional character of our northeastern states."
[from Erika Spanger-Siegfried of the Union of Concerned Scientists:]

According to the latest report from the American Lung Association of NYS, there are over 39,000 Dutchess residents with asthma, bronchitis, or emphysema-- and as it is now already a number of air quality advisories and alerts have already been issued this summer:

Dr. Gary Lovett of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies publicly stated last year that the vast majority of ground-level ozone pollution in Dutchess County is coming from transportation sources. Dr. Clive Jones of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies also confirmed the below-- the fact is that the dangerous ground-level concentration of ozone here in Dutchess County is literally twice as bad as it is in the Bronx (recall "City Trees Outgrow Rural Cousins, and Study Credits Urban Chemistry" by James Gorman NYTimes 7/10/03:

Middlebury College's Bill McKibben also wrote this May 11th: "A few weeks ago, NASA's chief climatologist, James Hansen, submitted a paper to Science magazine with several coauthors. The abstract attached to it argued-- and I have never read stronger language in a scientific paper-- that 'if humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted, paleoclimate evidence and ongoing climate change suggest that CO2 will need to be reduced from its current 385 ppm to at most 350 ppm.' Hansen cites six irreversible tipping points-- massive sea level rise and huge changes in rainfall patterns, among them-- that we'll pass if we don't get back down to 350 soon; and the first of them, judging by last summer's insane melt of Arctic ice, may already be behind us. Two weeks ago came the news that atmospheric carbon dioxide had jumped 2.4 parts per million last year-- two decades ago, it was going up barely half that fast."
[from "Civilization's Last Chance: The Planet Is Nearing a Tipping Point on Climate Change, and It Gets Much Worse, Fast"

From Bill McKibben's website itself-- "350 is the red line for human beings, the most important number on the planet. The most recent science tells us that unless we can reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million, we will cause huge and irreversible damage to the earth. Make no mistake--getting back to 350 means transforming our world. It means building solar arrays instead of coal plants, it means planting trees instead of clear-cutting rainforests, it means increasing efficiency and decreasing our waste. The fact is that America has been producing more carbon dioxide than any other country, and leads the industrialized world in per capita emissions."

And let's not forget Al Gore's wise words to us all in his "A Generational Challenge to Repower America" speech July 17th at the D.A.R. Constitutional Hall in Washington D.C. (see "The survival of the United States of America as we know it is at risk. And even more-- if more should be required-- the future of human civilization is at stake. The climate crisis, in particular, is getting a lot worse-- much more quickly than predicted. Scientists with access to data from Navy submarines traversing underneath the North polar ice cap have warned that there is now a 75 percent chance that within five years the entire ice cap will completely disappear during the summer months. This will further increase the melting pressure on Greenland. According to experts, the Jakobshavn glacier, one of Greenland's largest, is moving at a faster rate than ever before, losing 20 million tons of ice every day, equivalent to the amount of water used every year by the residents of New York City. Two major studies from military intelligence experts have warned our leaders about the dangerous national security implications of the climate crisis, including the possibility of hundreds of millions of climate refugees destabilizing nations around the world. Just two days ago, 27 senior statesmen and retired military leaders warned of the national security threat from an "energy tsunami" that would be triggered by a loss of our access to foreign oil. We're borrowing money from China to buy oil from the Persian Gulf to burn it in ways that destroy the planet. Every bit of that's got to change. Today I challenge our nation to commit to producing 100 percent of our electricity from renewable energy and truly clean carbon-free sources within 10 years. I ask you to join with me to call on every candidate, at every level, to accept this challenge-- it's time for us to move beyond empty rhetoric. We need to act now."

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"First GM Hybrid Transit Buses Go to Work: New Technology Offers Large Gains in Fuel Economy and Reduced Emissions"
byMike MeredithofMSN autos

Passenger cars with hybrid gas-electric drive systems have been generating a tremendous amount of publicity lately, due to the technology's fuel savings and reduced emissions. Sales of hybrid passenger vehicles remain strong, with demand still growing. Amid this increasing interest comes a new product from General Motors that will put hybrid technology beneath even more people: hybrid transit buses.

As part of its wide range of fuel-efficient advanced technologies, General Motors has developed a commercial parallel hybrid system that combines a diesel engine with electric motors to power transit buses.

On May 27th, 2004, at Seahawks Stadium in Seattle, GM officially delivered the first of 235 hybrid busesthe largest order to dateto Metro Transit of King County, Washington. Metro Transit ordered 213 hybrid buses and Sound Transit Regional Express ordered 22 more.

The first buses were put into service on June 5, 2004, with all 235 buses destined for King County expected to be in service by the end of the year.

Improved Fuel Economy, Lower Emissions

The hybrid buses delivered to King County are 60-foot-long articulated units assembled by New Flyer of Winnipeg, powered by the Allison Electric Drive system utilizing technology developed by GM's Powertrain division.

The hybrid system combines an 8.9-liter Caterpillar diesel engine with two 100 kW electric motors, and can deliver up to 60 percent better fuel economy than a traditional diesel bus. The GM hybrid buses produce much lower hydrocarbon and carbon monoxide emissions than conventional diesel-powered buses. In addition, particulate emissions (tiny pieces of soot and dust) are lowered by 90 percent and nitrogen oxide (NOX) emissions are lowered by up to 50 percent.

The 235 hybrid buses that operate in the Seattle area are expected to save 750,000 gallons of fuel per year over the buses they will replace. Over the 12-year life cycle of the vehicles, the total savings is expected to be 8 million gallons of fuel.

If America's nine largest cities replaced their transit fleetstotaling 13,000 buseswith GM's hybrid buses, GM states the cities would save 40 million gallons of fuel each yeara greater savings than 500,000 small hybrid vehicles.

"This bus employs the most efficient hybrid architecture available in the world today, and is the first step in a larger GM initiative," said Tom Stephens, group vice president of GM Powertrain. "You get low emissions, great fuel economy, smooth and quiet operation, but one other thing is acceleration," explained Stephens. "You look at 60-foot buses like this and you know how slow they typically are, but with this system the buses are 50 percent faster for acceleration than a conventional bus, so all in all it's just a tremendous balance of values for the consumers."

Another advantage of hybrid technology is a regenerative braking system, which captures and stores braking energy. "When you get into a hybrid system like this . . . every time you brake to a stop you convert that braking energy into electricity and store it in the battery, so the next time you accelerate you can use that braking energy to accelerate the bus," explained Stephens.

Lower Maintenance Costs, Quiet Operation

In addition to the fuel savings and emissions improvements, the GM Hybrid Transit Bus has operational sound levels equivalent to passenger cars. Metro Transit also expects the new buses will result in significant savings in maintenance costs.

Jim Boon, vehicle maintenance manager for Metro Transit Division of King County, told MSN Autos that they have not made any operational compromises nor any changes to the infrastructure to accommodate the new hybrid buses. "This bus just walks on and goes to work," said Boon, who expects to be able to extend oil-change intervals in the hybrid units, saving up to 32,000 quarts of oil per year, plus labor and disposal costs.

"The sound level of this bus in hush mode is about equivalent to a regular passenger car," said Stephens.

In a conventional bus, when you go to drive away you hear the diesel engine rev up and you get the noise and vibration, then you feel a strong jerk when it shifts into second gear.

"This bus is totally different," explained Stephens. "When you go to drive away you hear next to nothing. The electric drive system augments the torque required to drive away and helps the diesel engine so you get a nice, smooth, quiet drive away and there are no shifts whatsoever; it is totally smooth, more like light-rail transportation as opposed to what you conventionally think of with bus transportation."

GM says that the hybrid system being used in the hybrid transit buses today will be scaled and transferred in full-size sport-utility vehicles and full-size pickup truck in the next few years. "These buses are incredibly significant for us," explained King County Executive Ron Sims, "We wanted a 21st century bus with lower operation and maintenance costs that wouldn't be dependent solely on petroleum-based products. We wanted a bus that would literally improve our air quality in a very significant way, and we wanted a bus that is a complete technology."

"The public wants clean air and public transportation is a key component of that," Sims concluded.

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From ...

[go to link itself to see actual table]

On a recent stream of conversation relating to how Ford has sent some Mercury Mariner hybrid SUVs kitted up as police cars to the Cleveland area as a demonstration, it occurred to me (and I wrote about) the possibility of using the Prius as a real police vehicle. In fact, one of the other bloggers (who obviously has encyclopedic knowledge of how to get an amazing number of facts and figures out of the internet) determined that the Prius (made in Japan) was generally within an inch to quarter inch in most internal dimensions compared to the two most popular police cars used in the US. Look for yourself, with thanks to Joseph Willemsen for some of the raw data, some of which I corrected (notably the combined horsepower of the Prius which is not, in fact, the simple addition of 67 horsepower of the electric motors and 76 horsepower of the Atkinson cycle engine).

Here are some apparently unfair comparisons between the two most popular police vehicles, and the Toyota Prius hybrid. All have 5 seats. All have about 16 cubic feet of luggage area. (The webmaster threw in the Dodge Charger V6 since this is likely to become popular as a squad car. The Charger Hemi is likely to be used for special purposes - state police pursuits - but probably won't be used much in towns and cities.)

If you'rethinking what a joke, look again at the performance figures above. Also - to put it bluntly can a perp outrun Motorola (police radio)?Consider also the Prius supposed weak-spot in the comparison - top speed - most "police chases" and "police responses" rarely, if ever, get above 106 mph in the real world, I believe you'll find, and in fact, in many jurisdictions, police chases are no longer allowed or heavily restricted for public safety reasons.

A Prius may be had with vehicle stability control and side airbags and all have traction control and electronic brake assistance. My point? Extra safety for our police officers while ina police Prius. Vehicle stability control apparently cuts single-car accidents by 80\% (i.e. it's harder to slide off the road in the winter time or in the wet). The Prius is front-wheel-drive just as the Chevrolet Impala is. This has obvious advantages in snow areas.

I'm certain that just as GM or Ford do, Toyota would be able to build police-specification Prius cars to-order including steel wheels, police spec tires, absence of centerconsole (to make room for a shotgun and room in thefront seat areafor side-arms), wiring for police radio/siren/beacons, specific exterior colors, vinyl rear seats and floor covering, front/rear compartment barriers, disconnected rear inside door handles, and so forth. Toyota may also be well advised to adopt the rear disc brakes and suspension of the European specification Prius for US police use. I emailed Toyota (as well as my state senator) with my ideas, I might add. After all, its OUR tax money that the police are blowing away by driving massive V8 police units, isnt it? Perhaps you the reader could write to your state senator and representative with a similar proposal if you think cutting fuel expenses in by 2/3rds is a noble idea for our police forces.

[Note: several departments, including the Teaneck police, have considered Prius test cars. Write to us if you know of any actual purchases.]

Where are the police cars built? All three American squad cars are made in Canada. The Prius is made in Japan.

Already, taxi drivers (known to be the hardest use of a vehicle alongside police use) are starting to adapt the Prius to their specific needs successfully apparently, in Canada, some taxi drivers are indicating virtually no breakdowns over a quarter a million miles before trading for their next Prius absolutely unheard of in conventional taxis.

Is it time for you to consider buying a vehicle, such as a Prius, which can take care of 95\% of your needs rather than some massive oversized gas-hog of a vehicle which you might have considered buying to take care of 99\% of your wants? For those times when you must cart something large home, for example, why not have it delivered? Why haul around a ton of extra vehicle for the occasional desire to carry something bulky? Isn't it time to look around you and realize that one person commuting in a 5000 pound SUV or truck or minivan or car, getting 15 or 20 miles per gallon, is a wasteful luxury that we not only can no longer afford, but that it is simply causing harm to the future of ourselves, our children, grandchildren and all future generations? Its not a case of some enviro-nutcase saying we should all be eating celery and saving the rain forest its just plain good stewardship of the earth which must support us all. A Prius is just good, common sense updated for the reality of our times. That's another reason it's such a fantastic vehicle.

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Ford Provides Hybrid Patrol Car for Cleveland Police

Ford launched their 10-city hybrid patrol car in Cleveland yesterday. Ford provided the hybrid car due to an enormous use of fuel annually by police department, due to stop-and-go nature of patrol duty. They hope these cars could help educating Clevelands police departments on fuel conservation habits.
The Cleveland Police and Ford will also be patrolling the streets of Cleveland in a 2006 Mercury Mariner Hybrid and handing out $25 BP gas cards to drivers "caught in the act of conserving fuel.

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Remember when gas was $1.02 a gallon?...(it wasn't too long ago; see below)...

"Hybrid Police Cars" by Christy Whitehead

Police agencies around the United States are buying hybrid police cars to replace gas-guzzling counterparts and save taxpayers' money. Hybrid cars like the Toyota Prius and the hybrid version of the Honda Civic average 50 mpg compared to the 16 mpg of the current law enforcement workhorse, the Ford Crown Victoria.

Martin County, FL, Sheriff's Department Sgt. Jenell Atlas said that with gas prices for government currently at $1.02 a gallon, the southern Florida county is expecting to save $6,000 per hybrid car purchased.

How It Works

Unlike the pure electric cars that were first introduced in the United States, the hybrid vehicles of today never need to be recharged from an external source. Hybrid cars combine a gas engine with an electric motor to create an environmentally superior, fuel-efficient vehicle that never needs to be plugged in.

To heighten system efficiency, hybrids are fitted with a regenerative braking system that allows them to generate their own electricity. When the vehicle is subjected to stop and go traffic, or the brakes are applied, the motor is turned into a generator. The motor captures energy that would normally be lost as heat or kinetic energy and transforms it into electricity to recharge the batteries. Hybrids use nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries, which have the same recharging technology as that used in Palm Pilots and cell phones.

The hybrid will run off the electric motor when running at slower speeds or in stop and go traffic; at faster speeds the engine takes over and powers the car. While sitting at a stoplight, the hybrid shuts off altogether. The engine instantly restarts when the driver pushes on the accelerator or puts the car in gear- with no lull in momentum. The engine will also run when the air conditioning is turned on or if the battery needs recharging.

An in-dash monitor tells the driver whether the car is running off of the motor or the battery. Global positioning systems can also be installed so maps can be displayed on the screen as well.

The Toyota Prius comes with a Continuously Variable Transmission which keeps the engine running at its optimum power range. The CVT also allows the car to get better gas mileage and be more efficient. Honda offers the CVT transmission as an option rather than a standard feature. (The Honda Civic Hybrid can also be purchased with a manual transmission.)

Hybrid cars are designed to be treated as conventional vehicles. The batteries are designed to last the life of the vehicle and do not require replacement. Toyota and Honda both offer eight-year warranties on all hybrid-related parts in the car in addition to any standard warranties. Toyota's warranty covers up to 100,000 miles, while Honda's warranty covers up to 80,000 miles.

A Department Money Saver

Many police departments are switching over to hybrids in the hope of saving money over the life of the vehicle. Atlas, of Martin County, reports that the use of hybrids has dropped the county's fleet expenses by as much as 65\%.

Wyatt Earp, director of fleet management for Marion County Florida, has purchased several Toyota Priuses in an effort to cut his county's expenses.

Earp said he sat down and tried to set up a reasonable life cost analysis for the hybrids in comparison to the police cars they were replacing. When he looked at the life cost analysis and data from other government agencies that were using hybrids he found that everything "just made sense." Marion County purchases around 45 new cars a year for its fleet. Earp plans on evaluating his current fleet to see where a hybrid would be much better suited for the job than the bigger, less fuel efficient cars.
Major Patti Lumpkin, of Marion County, estimates that for each hybrid the department has purchased it will save $5,000 over the life of the vehicle.

Earp said that while the cost was a little more for the hybrid up front, he expects to save money over the long haul of the vehicle. Toyota is also covering some of the routine maintenance of the car. Earp said that at this time he has not invested any additional money into the maintenance of the cars because of the routine maintenance that Toyota provides.

The warranty on the hybrid technology was also a big factor in Marion County's purchase of the hybrid technology. It has allowed the department to try out the technology without having "to play a guessing game with taxpayers' money." The county plans on using each of the cars for about six years; Earp says that at about that time the Priuses should be running at 100,000 miles and the warranty coming to an end.

While the hybrids don't quite have the pickup desired for chasing speeders, many departments are finding a niche for the cars where the beefier engine is not required. The hybrids are ideal for serving warrants, delivering subpoenas, and running administrative errands.

Marion County has designated two of its Priuses as homeland-security cars. Trained civilian volunteers use the hybrids to inspect public facilities, which might be susceptible to terrorist attack- a job that requires lots of time on the road.

"The hybrids are clean and sound, they are a good investment," Earp said. The great-great nephew of the gunslinger of old West lore explained that his obligation to taxpayers is to conserve as much energy as possible and to spend their money wisely.

Earp initially purchased four Priuses in 2002 to test them out. He has been happy with their results and he plans on purchasing 12 more of the vehicles this year. Earp also has plans to purchase some of the new Honda Civic Hybrids, which just recently became available for purchase.

Electric Vehicle in Comparison to Hybrid

Marion County also owns 12 completely electric vehicles. Earp's department uses the electric vehicles- which look like space-age golf carts- for community and school patrols. They are also used at events like those held at their fairgrounds. Earp said the vehicles are fast at about 25 miles per hour and good for the environment.

The electric vehicles, which the department has nicknamed NEVs or Neighborhood Electric Vehicles, have one drawback in that they have to be charged every night. Earp has found the NEVS not to be as practical as the Prius. "The hybrid, now that is really a viable alternative," Earp said. "Plus with this [the Prius] the taxpayers get something back."

Environment and Community Friendly

Farther south in Martin County, hybrids are replacing less fuel-efficient counterparts that are unnecessary for certain jobs, like detective work. Martin County figures that for every Crown Victoria it replaces it saves the county a little over $100 a month. The county currently owns 11 Priuses and four Civic Hybrids. Sheriff Robert Crowder hopes to buy at least 50 more hybrids in the next year or so.
Crowder's department was the first law enforcement agency in the nation to implement hybrid cars into its fleet. "It is the right thing to do," he said. "We must decrease our dependency on foreign oil." Crowder recently received the E-Visionary award from the Electric Vehicle Association of the Americas. The organization recognizes leadership in helping to transition the transportation sector to the use of clean and efficient vehicles.

Law enforcement agencies are also seeing a lot of positive feedback from the press and general public in regards to having hybrid vehicles. Many police departments are reporting that citizens are asking about the vehicles and how they work.

Marion County reports that its department gets a lot of comments at red lights, when the hybrid cars turn off on their own to conserve energy. Unknowing onlookers often "inform" the officer that his car has turned off. Earp tries to educate people about the cars. Earp put in big letters on the side of the car that it is a hybrid and gets 52 miles per gallon. He uses the signs as another way to show the public that he is working for them to save them money.

Many news outlets are also running stories about government agencies and hybrid usage, giving many departments free positive publicity. Earp said that he has even been approached by a national television news show about the department's Priuses. He has also appeared in several newspapers because of the cars.

Earp doesn't mind being in the spotlight. He just hopes it brings attention to the hybrid technology. He feels that as Americans we should do what we can for the environment and the hybrids are one way of doing that.

Environmentally Sound

Besides reducing fuel dependency, hybrids also reduce emissions released into the ozone. According to Hybrid, "a gallon of gasoline weighs just over 6 pounds. When burned, the carbon in it combines with oxygen from the air to produce about 19 pounds of carbon dioxide."
The 2003 Civic Hybrid reduces both hydrocarbon and nitrogen oxide emissions by as much as 82\%. The 2001-2003 Prius reduces hydrocarbon and nitrous oxide emissions by 97\%, carbon monoxide emissions by 76\%, and particulate emissions by 90\%. The new 2004 models are even better for the environment...

While the cost of hybrid technology is still higher than that of average vehicles, many police departments are finding hybrids to be a perfect fit that saves the department money in the long run.

The Boca Raton City Council tonight will approve the purchase of four hybrid cars for the city police department, making Boca a relative latecomer to the energy-conserving trend now sweeping Florida.
The council, piggybacking the purchase onto a Florida state contract, is buying the four 2005 Toyota Prius vehicles for $86,060 from Alan Jay Chevrolet in Sebring. The cars will be used to transport assistant chiefs and captains.

We wanted to take a proactive approach to rising fuel costs and lessen the impact on the environment, Mayor Steven Abrams said Monday.

Two of the hybrid cars are new additions to the citys fleet and two are replacement vehicles for conventional Chevrolets that the city is retiring.

Boca Raton is a relative latecomer to the electric car trend, which started when hybrids came on the market in 2001 in 2002.

I think were right where we want to be, said Deputy Mayor Bill Hager. Government should be at the leading edge, but never at the bleeding edge. Our goal is not to be trendy, but responsible, and it looks like the hybrids are responsible.

Hybrid automobiles save energy and money by running on a combination of gasoline and electricity. The only models currently available are the Chevrolet Silverado, Ford Escape, Toyota Prius and a Honda Civic.

The Prius is the most efficient, getting about 60 miles to the gallon when driven in town and 50 miles per gallon on the highway.

I think its a great idea, a real positive step forward, Councilwoman Susan Haynie said. I know the city of Coconut Creek is very environmentally conscious and has had electric vehicles for awhile.
Chris Wilson, Toyotas government fleet sales manager for Florida, said the company had sold nearly 300 hybrids more than half of those in Dade County in the last three years prior to the Boca deal.
Theyre definitely catching on with municipalities and individuals, Wilson said. The Toyota Prius has become a status symbol in Hollywood because its so environmentally sound.

But the Prius is not fast enough for patrol car duty, Wilson added.

You wont see hybrids pulling people over on COPS, but youll see them being used for serving papers and for port security patrols. Its not a pursuit vehicle, although its definitely used by law enforcement.

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