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With a turbine for an engine, experimental hybrid bus eliminates noise in cities

With a turbine for an engine, experimental hybrid bus eliminates noise in cities

Posting in Cities

A new, experimental hybrid bus called the EcoSaver IV is being tested in New York City. With a turbine for an engine, the bus virtually eliminates engine noise.

Next stop, hearing loss.

If you've ever ridden a bus in a city -- it doesn't really matter which one -- you know that the engine and transmission situated beneath the floor can get excruciatingly loud, both inside and outside the bus.

A new experimental turbine hybrid bus aims to change that.

A new bus called the EcoSaver IV Hybrid Electric made by a company named DesignLine is being tested by New York City's Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Instead of a constant rumble and roar at acceleration, the EcoSaver offers "little more than a low groan," reports the New York Times.

In fact, the bus' air-conditioner is louder than its engine.

The reason why current buses are so loud is because they use that old standby, an internal combustion engine. With pistons firing and crankshaft spinning, the engines can make quite a racket.

The DesignLine bus does away with all that, operating instead on a spinning turbine that recharges a lithium-ion battery. (The battery recharges each time the driver hits the brakes.) With fewer moving parts, there's less overall clatter.

The MTA is testing three buses in a pilot program, each of which cost $559,000. If deemed a success, the city will order 87 more as part of a $60 million contract with the bus' U.S.-based manufacturer.

Inside, you'll find the usual amenities of a brand-new public transportation vehicle: lots of seats (37, actually), a well-lit interior and LED information panels.

But that's not all: the MTA plans to implement several tech-forward ideas for public transit buses, including the utilization of GPS tracking devices and fare cards that can be waved over a sensor.

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Andrew Nusca

Editor Emeritus

Andrew Nusca is editor of SmartPlanet and an associate editor for ZDNet. Previously, he worked at Money, Men's Vogue and Popular Mechanics magazines. He holds degrees from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and New York University. He is based in New York but resides in Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure