Saturday, June 21, 2008

Motor Bus Society Convention 2005

The picture of the hydrogen fuel cell bus in the previous post was taken from a page dedicated to the spring 2005 convention of the Motor Bus Society in the San Francisco Bay Area. It is a big page with a lot of photo's of buses seen on the way and during excursions. The pic on the left shows you a trolleybus, but most are 'regular' buses.

Photo's are 700 px wide, which isn't all that big in this day and age. If you're a photo collector like me you'll probably prefer the more hi-res stuff. Still, photo quality is excellent and you might just find the brand, type or model that you were looking for. And if you're interested, the story about the convention is also worth your time.

Motor Bus Society Convention 2005

Monday, June 16, 2008

Hydrogen fuel cell buses

Fuel cell buses are clean, quiet, electrically propelled vehicles that emit only water vapor from the tailpipe. That sounds promising, but it literally comes at a cost.

The fuel cell bus on the image on the left belongs to the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA). As it happens I came across an article on, which describes itself as delivering 'insightful commentary on the automotive industry'.

The mentioned article, titled 'Fuel-Cell Experiment Misses the Bus' states: 'Some cost and durability figures for operating hydrogen fuel-cell powered buses have leaked out, and from them it appears the best thing that can be said is it’s a good thing it’s a demonstration program'.

A memo directed to the Santa Clara VTA’s board of directors indicated operating the buses has cost the Santa Clara VTA a staggering 32 times more than the overall running cost for comparable diesel-engine buses, says AutoObserver. Some interesting figures:

- cost per mile for to operate a diesel bus: $1.61; the fuel-cell buses: $51.66.
- per-mile parts cost for a diesel bus: 21 cents; the fuel-cell buses: $34.40.
- hydrogen fuel costs: about five times that of the diesel buses.

And as if the fuel is not expensive enough already, the memo said that about 50 percent of the hydrogen fuel escaped into the atmosphere while refueling.

The fuel-cell buses are not very dependable, and are shockingly expensive to fix. They averaged about 1,100 miles between road calls. The figure for diesel buses is roughly six times better.

All of which proves once more that fairytales are far from reality. Using water for fuel will not solve all of our problems, and it's painfully clear it will take more than a little time before we will all be traveling across the city in a zero-polluting fuell cell bus.

Read the article on

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Oslo ethanol powered biofuel bus

Suppose your city does not have an electric tram, or trolleybus system. Public transport is carried out with diesel buses. Now suppose the city council wants to do something about the environment. In particular, they want public transport to be more environment friendly.

Obviously, installing an electric system, or even a subway, is not the first thing on their minds, given the large investment that would come with it. Especially now that everything seems to be owned, controlled or at least influenced by large companies whose first interest is making more profits, not transporting citizens in a safe and environmentally responsible way.

So what is left to do? Well, you could fill up the tank with a different fuel. Replacing diesel fuel with a biofuel like ethanol is a relatively easy job. It is what the Norwegian capital Oslo has decided to do.

In 2008, twenty third-generation Scania ethanol buses will be taken into service by the Oslo public transport company. According to their calculations, these 20 ethanol buses will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 600 tonnes per year.

Scania is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of trucks and buses. They state that their third generation of ethanol engines have the same high efficiency as an ordinary diesel engine.

To promote the new biofuel buses, Scania made one available for transport services in conjunction with the Nobel Peace Prize Award Ceremony in Oslo on 10 December 2007.

Photo: biofuel bus in the streets of Oslo, 2598 x 1733 pixels, 1.65 mB