New York Rolls Out Electric Buses

Living near public transportation is traditionally considered a boon. But talk to New Yorkers who live above bus stops, and you'll likely hear horror stories of round-the-clock beeping, braking, rumbling and honking.

They're not imagining it. Researchers from Columbia University and the University of Washington found that noise levels at a Metropolitan Transit Authority bus stop reached 101.6 decibels (dBA). To put this number in perspective, consider that conversation typically hovers between 60 to 70 dBA, while gunfire reaches 140 dBA.

Fortunately for sleep-deprived city dwellers, the MTA recently rolled out a limited fleet of silent electric buses, with 87 more to come by the end of 2010. The buses by New Zealand-based manufacturer DesignLine cost $559,000 each, and come equipped with 37 seats and bright LED panels.

But it's the softly-purring engine that's the biggest draw: "Quiet as a tomb," Doreen M. Frasca, a pleased rider, told The New York Times – beautiful words, indeed, to those living above the stops.

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