The Evolution of the Transit Bus

Written by: Randy Anderson Technical Sales & Training Manager

Most of us don’t realize, as we are riding public transit to or from work, how technologically advanced the vehicles we are riding have become. Only a few short years ago transit buses were relatively uncomplicated vehicles, they had few creature comforts except heat and lighting, the bus would start in the morning when it left the bus barn and would run the entire day until the drivers shift or schedule was complete, this is very different today.

Today’s transit buses are loaded with power consuming accessories like electric sign boards, electronic fare boxes, TV’s and monitors, GPS, auxiliary charging plugs and much more, all which place an increased load on the electrical system of the bus. The bigger challenge however lies in the operation of the bus, where the bus engine used to run all day ensuring that there was always power to the accessory loads and the batteries were charged today in an effort to save fuel and with anti idling legislation in many cities the buses are now forced to shut their engine off at stops, with the engine off the entire electrical load is now coming from the batteries, which creates a whole new challenge.

Batteries are generally designed for starting or deep cycle applications. This particular condition in transit, however, demands that the battery be a hybrid or the best of both applications.  To solve this issue and with the demand for low or no maintenance products, Discover has manufactured an absorbed glass mat product that requires no maintenance and will provide the starting and cycling characteristics demanded by todays transit buses.  These batteries match the size of original equipment batteries so there is no requirement for changing battery trays, tie downs or reconfiguring of cables. The batteries are simply drop in, connect and go and never require the addition of any water or fluids as they are 100% maintenance-free which reduces service time during regular bus maintenance service. 

The Discover batteries have recently passed the stringent German Transit authorities testing for cycle capability and charge retention in transit applications, so rest assured these products can and will meet the demanding applications of our transit battery requirements in North America for years to come.