Hybrid Buses

Hybrid bus uptown Waterloo








By the end of 2011, Grand River Transit will have 12 hybrid buses on the road as it continues to evaluate the technology's effect on the environment. The first six were purchased in 2008, and the Region of Waterloo has added two a year since then.

Hybrid electric vehicles use two power sources: a combination engine and a battery.

Why experiment with hybrids?

The Region of Waterloo is committed to protecting the environment. Public transportation plays an important role in reducing the number of vehicles on the road.

Are there benefits to hybrids?

Compared to conventional buses, the new hybrids:

  • Reduce fuel consumption by up to 30 per cent. The Region's initial six hybrid buses saved a total of approximately 50,000 litres of fuel per year.
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions such as carbon dioxide by as much as 60 per cent.
  • Reduce the amount of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbon and particulate matter released into the air by up to 90 per cent.
  • Reduce operating costs. The hybrid's electric operating system places little stress on the engine's mechanical components so less maintenance is required.

Fuel economy chart


Where are hybrid buses used?

Hybrid buses run on low-speed, high-stop routes like Route 7 Mainline, where they have the greatest positive impact on the environment.

How does a hybrid work?

A hybrid electric vehicle uses two power sources: a combination engine and a battery which work together to produce energy. The battery powers the vehicle during acceleration and at lower speeds.

As the vehicle reaches 40 kilometres per hour, the mechanical power provided by the engine continues to increase while the electric power gradually decreases. The engine takes over to power the vehicle at high speeds when it is most efficient. 


Speedometer showing when the different modes of power work


The battery can also collect energy from the rolling vehicle as it is braking and convert that energy into electricity. It uses the electricity to recharge itself, instead of relying on the engine.

Inside a hybrid, the regular transmission is replaced by an electric transmission that also works as a generator or electric motor. On the roof are batteries, which weigh approximately 400 kilograms (900 pounds).


A cut away of a Hybrid bus showing how it works