One of the Maryland Transit Administration's (MTA) new hybrid-diesel electric buses led the 32 American Le Mans Series racecars on a pre-race parade lap immediately prior to the running of the second annual Baltimore Sports Car Challenge. The Challenge was presented by SRT as part of Grand Prix of Baltimore race weekend. MTA Administrator Ralign T. Wells, a former bus operator, drove the one-of-a-kind "pace bus," adorned with special Le Mans graphics, through the two-mile downtown race course.
"We're proud of these buses," said Wells. "These new buses are good for the environment, good for the customer and good for Maryland's pocketbook by providing better gas mileage, increased reliability and a smoother ride."
The pace bus is one of 215 hybrid diesel electric buses purchased by the O'Malley Administration. That number will grow by 53 in the next year following Governor O'Malley's approval of the purchase of additional hybrids, and a commitment to convert the entire MTA fleet to hybrids. The aggressive move toward hybrid buses is consistent with the O'Malley-Brown Administration's Smart, Green and Growing initiative designed to achieve a more sustainable future.
In tests comparing hybrid buses to diesel buses, hybrids use 20 percent less fuel and are up to 50 percent quieter. Hybrids have proven to be twice as reliable as diesels, logging 6,200 miles between service calls, compared to every 3,300 miles for diesel models. These new, state of the art buses feature ergonomic passenger seating, an advanced video surveillance system, wider exit doors, LED lighting, and tip-in windows for improved air circulation and passenger safety. The first of this latest round of hybrid buses will be on the street in September 2012, with the final bus scheduled for delivery February 2013.
The American Le Mans Series Baltimore Sports Car Challenge presented by SRT includes a wide array of racecars, from the ultra-exotic 200-mph prototypes (propelled by a variety of engines, including hybrids and diesel-powered machines) to the production-based GT machines. American Le Mans Series races run for a specific duration of time. At the Grand Prix of Baltimore, the race will be conducted for two hours.
Baltimore is the eighth race of the ten-race American Le Mans Series season. The world's premier sports car racing series is a venue for the largest auto and tire manufacturers to go head-to-head on legendary circuits, piloted by the sport's most respected drivers and teams. The Series provides manufacturers with a real-life laboratory to push the limits of automotive innovation and technology with recent breakthroughs focusing on the environment. Examples include development of biofuels, hybrid technology and tire compounds, plus more efficient auto engineering that carries over to dealership showrooms.
For more information on the Grand Prix of Baltimore presented by SRT, go to the official event website: www.RaceOnBaltimore.com.
For general information on MTA service, visit the MTA website at www.mta.maryland.gov. Customers can also call the MTA Transit Information Center Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. at 410-539-5000 (TTY 410-539-3497). To sign-up for email about service modifications and delays, go to www.mta.maryland.gov/enotifications.