Muni unveils newest hybrid and electric buses

On Earth Day, a time to celebrate all things environment, San Francisco transportation officials showed off Muni’s new low-floor 60-foot electric trolley bus and biodiesel-electric hybrid bus.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is in the process of replacing its entire fleet of buses through a five-year replacement plan with New Flyer America Inc., and King County Metro in Washington state.

The transit agency purchased 60 articulated electronic trolley buses for $68 million last year to replace buses that have been in service over two decades.

The new 60-foot trolleys are funded by Federal Transit Administration grants, bridge toll funds, local Proposition K funds and Proposition B funds.

Photos by Jerold Chinn/SFBay

The SFMTA also purchased 61 articulated hybrid buses costing $95 million last year. The new 60-ft hybrid buses are also funded by federal, state and local funds. The contract also allows the transit agency to purchase up to 163 60-ft hybrid buses over the next six years, according to the transit agency.

The new electric trolleys will run on hydro-electric power generated by the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir. The 60-foot electric hybrid buses will run on a blend of diesel and biodiesel made of recycled oil and fat.

New features on both buses include a new wheelchair lift, new and more seating inside the bus, and improved lighting.

John Haley, director of transit, said new plastic blue seats are sturdier, durable and easy to clean. Stickers inform riders which seats are for seniors, disabled and wheelchair riders.  The new buses are also a bit more family friendly. There is a seat in the back of bus indicated with a stroller label for parents to flip-up so they could park the stroller, said Haley:

“It’s a new customer feature that we are pleased with.”

The configuration of the back of the bus is different compared to its 40-foot hybrid counterpart. Haley said riders wanted a more open stadium feel seating toward the back of the bus.

The trolley is also one of the first to feature an air conditioning system inside.

One key service improvements on the bus is the ability to run the electric trolley at around 40 mph off the poles, said Haley:

“Our current vehicles, I can walk faster once we take the poles off.”

He also said the new trolleys are better at handling some of steepest grades compared to the current fleet.

Muni riders could start seeing the new electric trolley in service within a month on the 14-Mission line, said Haley, director of transit He said the transit agency tested the new electric trolley throughout The City.

The 60-ft hybrid bus is still undergoing evaluation by the SFMTA before it goes into service.