For the month of April, our “Photo of the Month” is Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority #16102 – one of seven new 2016-model 40-foot Gillig Low Floor BRT design Diesel-Electric Hybrid buses. These buses arrived on the PSTA premises back in December of 2016 and began entering revenue service during March of 2017 (though #’s 16101 and 16105 have not yet seen revenue service).
While these buses are virtually identical to their older BRT hybrid counterparts, they sport the latest in BAE HybriDrive technology, so the ride is much smoother and quieter. In fact, if the bus is traveling less than 20mph, the battery is in full control. Also, when the bus is idle, you may notice a slight vibration in the bus as if the engine is shutting off. This is not the case however, the bus is still running even though it is in idle. Operators had to receive special training on this so that they do not think something has gone wrong with the bus. Once the bus exceeds 20mph, or if the battery life drops below 60%, the diesel engine will kick on and recharge the battery. The diesel engine on these buses do not sound as loud as their older counterparts either.
Currently, you’ll find these buses mostly on Route 59, but they have appeared on Routes 18, 52, 74, and 300X from time to time.