05/19/2011 17:41

Swedish bus to run to Herzliya for the next couple weeks; engine saves about 30% in fuel consumption, 50% in air pollution.
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The Metropoline Transit Company began using a hybrid Volvo bus this week in Kfar Saba, which will run along the city’s popular No.

29 line to the Herzliya Marina for the next couple weeks until being sent back to Sweden, the company said.

The bus’s diesel-electric powerplant saves about 30 percent in fuel while producing 50% less air pollution than most of the country’s buses, although each unit is about 50% more expensive to purchase, Metropoline CEO Ilan Karni told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.

Metropoline currently operates 230 buses in the Sharon region – all of them using seven-liter diesel engines – and another 130 in the South, according to Karni.

The engines are environmentally preferable to the 12-liter engines that power most buses in Israel, he explained, and the company will decide whether to begin upgrading its fleet to hybrids in the coming months.

“This is a bus that we took from Sweden to test in Israel for a couple of weeks,” he said. “We will decide what the advantages and disadvantages are, and what to do from there.”

The bus runs completely on electric power until speeds of around 20 kilometers per hour, and charges its batteries by braking.

“This is the reason it’s good for city lines and not intercity lines,” Karni explained.

While its capacity is around 90 passengers, like other Metropoline buses, a maximum of 65 will be allowed to board in order to maintain comfort, he said.

One area in which the hybrid would require an upgrade if used in Israel, according to Karni, would be its air conditioning system.

“In Israel you need power for AC more than in Norway or Sweden,” he said.

He also said the company had been getting very positive feedback about the hybrid, saying, “It’s something very new, and the people are very proud of it.” He noted that the bus is a very visible shade of green, with advertisements all over it. “Sometimes they’ve been waiting just for this bus.”

While Karni would not say what the company’s decision about the hybrid will be, he did say that this system is certainly the way to go for the entire country – even though it probably won’t happen quickly.

“In the future, most of the buses in Israel will be hybrid, but it won’t be in the coming years, for sure,” he said.