Monday, November 02, 2009

Victorian Hybrid Buses

The Victorian Government is sponsoring a trial of two hybrid buses. As the video from the Victorian Transport Department explains, two types of hybrid bus are being trialled: the serial hybrid is more suited to slow routes with many stops, the parallel to longer routes with higher speed.

The series hybrid vehicle is for Ventura Coaches, with the wheels driven only by electric motors. It is claimed to reduce fuel use by 40%. There are 640 lithium ion batteries charged from a 2-litre diesel Volkswagen car engine. The internal combustion engine is much smaller than that normally used in a bus. As this is a full hybrid, the bus could, in theory act as a plug-in hybrid, or pure electric bus, charged from mains power. However, as Victorian electricity is primarily sourced from highly polluting brown coal, this would not have environmental benefits.

The Grendas Bus Service vehicle is a parallel hybrid (similar to a most hybrid cars), built from an Australian made Iveco bus chassis, Volgren Low Floor Route bus body and Cummins diesel Allison hybrid gearbox. This is used as a "Smart Bus" on the Springvale Road 888/889 route.

One aspect of the hybrid buses which is not clear is their fuel source. If the hybrid buses run on diesel they may have little environmental or cost advantages over conventional natural gas powered vehicles.

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Saturday, October 03, 2009

Paddington Reservoir Gardens

Paddington Reservoir GardensThe Paddington Reservoir Gardens were opened in Sydney 29 March 2009. This is a sunken garden in what was an 1880's underground water reservoir, across the road from the Paddington Town Hal. I thought I would plan a day out in Sydney to visit the gardens (and compare it with Istanbul). As it is Saturday there are the Paddington Markets from 10am. Also the City of Sydney Library at Customs House there is "Remodelling Architecture: Architectural Places - Digital Spaces" with digital design work by young architects. Then a visit to Sydney's Paddy's Markets for some fresh produce would be good.

To get around to all those, I have planned the journey using the excellent, but badly named Transport Info 131500. This provides public transport information for Greater Sydney (with Newcastle, Central Coast, Wollongong and the Illawarra). With this you put in the landmark or locations you want to from and to and the service plots a route by bus, train and freey, taking into account how long it takes to walk between stops.

In this case I am starting from the Annandale Post Office and going to Custom House Square Sydney after 10:30am. The system recommends:

Option 1 : 37 minutes

Mode Details
Map this walk Walk to bus stop Annandale, Booth St Nr Johnston St - 96 metres
Map this bus trip Take the 470 bus*1 (Sydney Buses)
Dep: 10:36am Annandale, Booth St Nr Johnston St
Arr: 11:03am Sydney, Bridge St Nr Loftus St

Map this walk Walk to Custom House Square Sydney - 224 metres


1 Wheelchair Accessible
Not all landmarks are in the system. As an example "Paddington Reservoir Gardens" is not. But "Paddington Town Hall" is:

From: Custom House Square Sydney

To: Paddington Town Hall

When: Saturday, 3 October 2009

Leave after: 12:00pm...

Option 1 : 31 minutes

Mode Details
Map this walk Walk to bus stop Sydney, Phillip St Nr Bridge St - 312 metres
Map this bus trip Take the 333 bus*1 (Sydney Buses)
Dep: 12:14pm Sydney, Phillip St Nr Bridge St
Arr: 12:32pm Paddington, Oxford St Nr Ormond St

Map this walk Walk to Paddington Town Hall - 128 metres


1 Wheelchair Accessible ...

You can slow the walking speed, if set to "high" the system tends to suggest trips with 900 m or more of walking between stops. There is also an option to minimise the walking and for wheelchair accessible services.

The maps are lacking in detail compared to those from systems such as Google Maps, but do show the essentials. The service could benifit from having a simplived version for mobile devices.

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Long Distance Turkish Bus

The International Istanbul Bus Station (Uluslararsi Istanbul Otogan) is a wonder of the modern world. This is a three story circular structure which can cater for thousands of passengers and hundreds of buses at once. The buses are serviced on the lower levels, with workshops and stores selling bus spare parts and accessories. The higher level has stores, barbers and cafes servicing the drivers and passengers. The top level has shops the bus company offices, waiting rooms and bays for buses.

I went looking for a cyber cafe while waiting for a bus and descended one level down, into something resembling a scene from the movie Blade Runner. The dimly lit concrete corridors had all sorts of shops, bus parts and people sitting around drinking and eating. There was the risk of turning a corner and being in the path of an oncoming bus, or tripping over a pile of spare parts in the dark.

The cybercafe turned out to be on the open top level, directly opposite where I started. For two Turkish lire, I was able to check my mail in comfort and quickly download a week's worth of MP3.

The Turkish long distance buses are large, comfortable and smoke free. As well as the driver, there is an attendant who checks tickets and serves free drinks and snacks. There was no toilet on the Metro bus I traveled on, but it stopped every few hours at a bus station, equipped with toilets and cafes. The first time the bus stopped I was worried that it would leave without me. But I worked out that at major stops the bus was washed, in a ritual similar to the washing of an elephant, and I had until this was finished.

One surprise was at some point in the night the bus stopped at the water's edge; a car ferry arrived and the bus was transported across a large body of water. I still have no idea of what or where this was.

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