Hybrid handover 'official'

The Alexander Dennis-Custom hybrid bus commissioned by Transport NSW settles into its new home at STA’s Leichhardt depot in Sydney today

Hybrid handover 'official'
Hybrid handover ‘official’

By David Goeldner | April 8, 2011

The Alexander Dennis-Custom series hybrid bus transfers to NSW State Transit Authority’s Leichhardt depot in Sydney today after some ‘last minute’ fine tuning.

The electric-diesel hybrid had been temporarily handed over to STA in late March, but made its way back to Custom’s Villawood facility for a ‘few adjustments’, according to Custom Sales and Marketing Director Steve Jackson.

"An STA driver’s committee reviewed it and came back to us for some air-conditioning adjustments," Jackson says.

The hybrid now goes back to STA for route testing, driver training, analysis and – paid service as part of the Sydney Bus fleet.

An Alexander Dennis driver trainer will train STA’s drivers over the next month.

Jackson says during this period, data logging equipment will be installed to run detailed analysis of its performance over the next twelve months.

But as the hybrid will be – at least on the surface – part of the Sydney Bus fleet, there’s a requirement to fit out the vehicle with STA’s radio and CCTV systems.

Consequently, Jackson is uncertain of the exact time the hybrid will go into paid service, but expects STA route selection will be made by early May.

The low floor bus is built on an Alexander Dennis series hybrid chassis under a Custom CB80 body.

As the first series hybrid in Australia, the vehicle is being touted as the most economical of its type for city stop-start running.

The electronic system is designed by UK-based BAE, and adapts technology used in US military vehicles requiring low diesel fuel reliance.

"This particular system is based on Alexander Dennis’s double-deckers operating in London," Jackson says.

The bus is low floor through the rear axle to the back of the vehicle.

Asia Motors, the Australian distributor of Alexander Dennis, recently sent one their technicians to London to sort through refinements to the safety and workshop aspects of the vehicle.

The same technician will engage with the STA driver training process.

"The benefit of a hybrid is that you fine-tune the electronics to suit the operation," Jackson says.

The vehicle’s Cummins engine drives the generator, power steering, alternator, air-conditioning and water pump.

"All power, when you accelerate, comes from the batteries and when you decelerate or brake you put power back into the batteries," says Jackson.

"That’s the uniqueness of a series system, and part of the STA trial is to find out what it’s really like."

Transport NSW is running the trial, and has engaged several parties, including university researchers, for the assessment.

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