Impact of Time-Varying Passenger Loading on Conventional and Electrified Transit Bus Energy Consumption

Luying Liu, Andrew Kotz, Aditya Salapaka, Eric Miller, William F. Northrop

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus Citations


Transit bus passenger loading changes significantly over the course of a workday. Therefore, time-varying vehicle mass as a result of passenger load becomes an important factor in instantaneous energy consumption. Battery-powered electric transit buses have restricted range and longer “fueling” time compared with conventional diesel-powered buses; thus, it is critical to know how much energy they require. Our previous work has shown that instantaneous transit bus mass can be obtained by measuring the pressure in the vehicle’s airbag suspension system. This paper leverages this novel technique to determine the impact of time-varying mass on energy consumption. Sixty-five days of velocity and mass data were collected from in-use transit buses operating on routes in the Twin Cities, MN metropolitan area. The simulation tool Future Automotive Systems Technology Simulator was modified to allow both velocity and mass as time-dependent inputs. This tool was then used to model an electrified and conventional bus on the same routes and determine the energy use of each bus. Results showed that the kinetic intensity varied from 0.27 to 4.69 mi−1 and passenger loading ranged from 2 to 21 passengers. Simulation results showed that energy consumption for both buses increased with increasing vehicle mass. The simulation also indicated that passenger loading has a greater impact on energy consumption for conventional buses than for electric buses owing to the electric bus’s ability to recapture energy. This work shows that measuring and analyzing real-time passenger loading is advantageous for determining the energy used by electric and conventional diesel buses.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)632-640
Number of pages9
JournalTransportation Research Record
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© National Academy of Sciences: Transportation Research Board 2019.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5400-73507


  • electrified transit bus
  • energy consumption
  • vehicle mass


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