London rolled out a new look for its iconic double-decker bus late last week. The prototype, a fuel-efficient hybrid by the studio of Brit-boy wonder Thomas Heatherwick, is cleverly designed to speed up passenger boarding and represents the first time that the city has commissioned a new bus in more than 50 years.
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The big inspiration here was the '50s-era Routemaster, beloved for an exposed deck that let riders hop on and off quickly. The new bus reinstates that feature--which had been eliminated on all but a few routes in 2005--with a rear open platform. It additionally has three doors and two staircases to streamline the passenger-boarding process.
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Lookswise, the New Bus for London is as slick and as futuristic as any bus is going to be. It has a curved profile (Mayor Boris Johnsonlikens it to a “bowler hat,” among other embarrassingly stereotypical British things), lots of passenger windows, and an oddly asymmetrical front window. At first we mistook the latter for some sort of lame attempt at sexing up the bus with a racing stripe, but it turns out to serve a practical purpose: The angle gives drivers clear curbside views.
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The first fleet of buses is expected to arrive on the streets early next year. If successful, hundreds more will go into circulation in coming years. Checkout the following video of the new bus.
COMMENTARY: Now that's what I call a double dose of bus transportation pleasure. I love the cardinal red and blue color combination and those seats look very comfy as you ride the busy streets of London. I also appreciate that the new double-decker buss is a hybrid which results in lower carbon emissions. When I visit the UK, I definitely hope to ride one and report back what I think.
If you are planning a future trip to London, you will find the London bus transportation system one of the best and most extensive in the world. Bus fares are expensive compared to metropolitan bus lines in major cities of the U.S.
There are three methods of payment: Cash, Oyster Card (pay as you go) and Travel Cards. If you are a Londoner and commute regularly, the Oyster Card is very convenient, because you can add value to the card, and every time you use it, the fare is automatically deducted). You can find out more about routes, rates, live news and other information on the Transport for London website. Click the following Transport for London bus route map for all the bus routes in central Lond.
Current batteries lack the oomph to power our freight-hauling needs. In the meantime, we have to squeeze every last drop of fuel we can out of them. These sexy new trucks should help.
The Nissan Leaf is great, but the sad reality is that we’re still many years away from electric vehicles replacing a significant percentage of our cars and trucks. Battery costs are high and ranges are comparatively short. Those problems are even more salient for semi-trailers, which need to carry heavy loads long distances. Our current batteries just aren’t going to cut it.
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But until they can, we can still make improvements to the semis we have. At this year’sTrailer 2011 exhibition (yes, it’s a trade expo for trailers), Mercedes-Benz is presenting a design study for a new aerodynamic trailer that reduces wind resistance by as much as 18% as compared to their existing Actros trailer.
The “Aero Trailer” sports a number of small design improvements that allow it to cut through the air more easily. The two most significant features are those side trim panels, which reduce resistance by 8%, and the tapered rear end, which contributes another 7% reduction.
The “Aero Trailer” is still just a design concept, but Mercedes says its features would result in a 5% fuel savings. That might not sound like a lot, but a truck that travels 93,000 miles in a year would save 528 gallons of diesel fuel and five tons of carbon dioxide.
Wind resistance improvements are not going to stave off climate change by themselves, but they’re certainly a step in the right direction, given that we’re stuck moving a certain amount of stuff with these trailers for the foreseeable future.
If you’re curious, by the way, electric (and hydrogen) freight trucks do exist. The Port of Los Angeles has been experimenting with them since 2008. They just can’t go very far.
COMMENTARY: That's one cool freight truck and trailer rig. I was texting a truck driving friend of mine, and he was saying it costs about $800 to $1000 to fill the gas tanks of his rig. Still, I think you need double-digit cost savings if you are going to attrack buyers. Save a truck driver 3,000 gallons of fuel, and I think you got them.