CTA Buses Receive a Jump Start to Winter Preparations

July 16, 2008

New equipment to reduce bus idling and improve fuel efficiency

The Chicago Transit Board today approved a $1.3 million contract with Vanner Inc., a manufacturer of electrical power conversion products, for the purchase of up to 550 StartSentry ultracapacitors. The ultracapacitors act as quick-start devices that improve the reliability of vehicle starting systems by eliminating excessive idling and having to jump start buses stored outside during the winter months.

"If it's below 25 degrees, buses stored outside must be started and the engines allowed to run for up to an hour to ensure proper operation," said CTA President Ron Huberman. "By retrofitting our buses with these devices, CTA will be able reduce the amount of time buses idle, lower emissions and noise for our neighbors, as well as improve fuel efficiency by 30 percent during the winter months."

More than 450 buses that are stored outdoors at the North Park and Forest Glen garages will be the first to be retrofitted with the new ultracapacitors. Installation of the new equipment is expected to be complete by the end of the year.

During the winter, especially in extreme temperatures, vehicle batteries tend to lose voltage resulting in the inability to start the vehicle and requiring a jump start from another source. The ultracapacitors being installed on CTA buses are designed to hold a charge of energy so that when a battery indicates a low amount of voltage, the ultracapacitor acts as a defibrillator by automatically giving a jump start to the bus's battery.

Since 2001, when CTA began retrofitting older buses and ordering new buses with the engine pre-heaters, the agency has reduced the amount of time buses idle, lessened the wear on bus engines and saw cost savings from less fuel consumption. With the addition of the ultracapacitors, buses will have to idle less during extreme temperatures and the amount of time needed to warm up will be further reduced.


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