Mike Koozmin/The S.F. ExaminerThe SFMTA will implement double stopping on Muni Metro trains at certain stations starting this weekend.

New Muni hybrid buses to hit the streets

Muni riders may have noticed some buses are quieter and have more equipment on the roof since the summer, and they’ll soon see more of them with a second wave of hybrids en route.

On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors approved the purchase of 50 new 40-foot hybrid buses that will join the 62 already in service by the end of the year. That brings The City’s hybrid count to 112 and pushes it closer to replacing the full fleet of 500 buses over five years.

“Experts in technology believe that we’re probably five to seven years away from electric buses, so these diesel hybrid engines are excellent in terms of the environment,” San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Transit Director John Haley said.

Manufactured by New Flyer Industries in St. Cloud, Minn., the hybrids, which use 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent regular petroleum diesel, will be driven about 2,000 miles to San Francisco as part of a test run.

Once inspected again in The City, they will brave some of the most taxing routes, including the 28-19th Avenue, 29-Sunset, 44-O’Shaughnessy and 54-Felton lines and the new 5-Fulton pilot that launched on Monday.

“We haven’t babied these vehicles in the sense that they’re not just driven on the 35[-Eureka line] up the hill on Sundays,” Haley said. “We put them into heavy ridership and tough conditions and while still very early, the performance results have been pretty good.”

Each hybrid costs about $700,000 and the 50 vehicles, along with spare parts, maintenance and training, will cost an estimated $44 million.

Besides replacing its Neoplan diesel buses from 2000 and 2001, the SFMTA is simultaneously working to replace its fleet of 300 20-year-old trolleys. The agency expects to purchase 60 new trolleys from New Flyer Industries and the first is expected to hit the streets in November 2014.

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