In 2010, SEPTA put its 260th hybrid bus in service, passing the halfway point in reaching the ambitious goal of having 440 hybrid buses among its total fleet of 1,400 by the end of 2011. Forty of those hybrids were purchased with $17.8 million in federal grants under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009.
Hybrid buses are cleaner-burning and up to 29 percent more fuel-efficient than standard diesel buses. Hybrids are also quieter, which is better not only for bus operators and riders but also for residents living along SEPTA bus routes. "By the end of 2011 more than one out of every three buses will be hybrid," said Marion Coker, Manager of Strategic Business Planning and Sustainability at SEPTA. "The Philadelphia region will have the largest ratio of hybrids to diesel buses within an existing fleet nationwide."/
Because diesel emissions are a significant contributing factor to health risks from toxic emissions, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health Air Management Services (AMS) strongly promotes voluntary emissions reductions from diesel vehicles. AMS also convenes the Philadelphia Diesel Difference Working Group, a coalition that works to reduce air pollutants from diesel-powered engines in the greater Philadelphia area.
To promote air quality awareness, Mayor Nutter signed a proclamation declaring April 2010 "IdleFreePhilly Month." The Clean Air Council (CAC), Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA), and the City's 311 Contact Center are taking reports of vehicles idling for longer than five minutes by phone and at www.idlefreephilly.org. Both AMS and PPA can now issue fines to vehicles breaking Philadelphia's anti-idling law.