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City gets environmentally friendly buses

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The New York City Transit facility has gotten 59 hybrid electric buses in the past two months, MTA spokesman Joe Raskin told the Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association last Thursday during a meeting at JHS 93. "They run better. They run cleaner. They run quieter," Raskin said. The depot - the third in the city to use the environmentally friendly Orion 7 buses - should have 120 of them in its fleet at 66-99 Fresh Pond Rd. by September, Raskin said. The depot currently has 261 buses. The city introduced the first hybrid buses in 1998 with a pilot fleet of 10. It put the first production order of 125 in service last year in Harlem and Queens Village and hopes to have a total of 325 on the road by the end of the year. Civic members had a chance to tour a new model parked outside the junior high school Thursday evening. The Fresh Pond depot's assistant general manager, Brian Brennan, said he was thrilled with the new rides. "We haven't had any new buses in a long time," he said. The buses, which run on a combination of diesel and electricity, produce fewer emissions and are twice as fuel efficient as the depot's standard Nova RTS buses, which get about 1.8 to 2.8 miles per gallon.The Orions get 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 miles per gallon, Brennan said.Other upgrades include a handicapped ramp that folds out the front door rather than the back; brakes that last twice as long; a smoother ride because the electric motor eliminates the need to shift gears, which causes a jerking motion; and a roomier driver area. Bus driver John Maiure said the buses are a bit more difficult to drive because they have an overhang - or length of the bus past the rear wheel - of eight feet. The old buses overhang 4 1/2 feet. "It takes a little getting used to, but other than that it's a very nice bus," Maiure said. Reach Matthew Monks at news@timesledger.com or 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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