Eco-Driving for Transit
Eco-driving has significant potential to reduce fuel consumption and emissions from transit operations. Analyses were conducted of 68 thousand miles of real-world operations data from 26 buses, collected from local transit service provided by the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA), and express bus service provided by the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority (GRTA). The analysis utilized second-by-second operations data collected via global positioning system (GPS) devices from buses operated by these transit agencies. The researchers simulated the implementation of transit eco-driving strategies, based on the modal emissions modeling framework employed by the Motor Vehicle Emission Simulator (MOVES) designed to reduce engine load and emissions. This algorithm seeks to minimize fuel consumption by limiting instantaneous vehicle specific power (VSP), while maintaining average speed and conserving total distance.
Fuel consumption and fuel-cycle emissions were compared across the monitored driving cycles and their modified eco-driving cycles. The savings from eco-driving were also compared against expected fuel and emissions reductions via conversion of the transit fleets to compressed natural gas (CNG), which is another popular fuel conservation strategy.
The transit eco-driving strategy showed a 5% reduction in fuel consumption and fuel cycle greenhouse gas emissions for MARTA’s 508-bus fleet (~35% diesel/65% CNG), and a 7% reduction in fuel consumption for GRTA’s 166-bus diesel fleet. The fuel savings translate to about 300,000 gallons of diesel fuel equivalent per year for MARTA and 55,000 gallons of diesel per year for GRTA. Eco-driving was also shown to reduce fuel use and emissions for CNG fleets. Eco-driving training can readily be implemented if speed/acceleration activity is monitored. Because eco-driving does not require significant capital investment it is a potentially very cost-effective strategy for local and express bus transit operations.