Vail buying hybrid buses
 

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The town of Vail tested a hybrid bus in 2004. The town is buying its first hybrid bus. It should be on the road by this time next year.
Special to the Daily
 

Edward Stoner
October 2, 2005

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VAIL - The town of Vail is adding a hybrid bus to its fleet next year and plans to add nine more in the next few years.

By 2011, the town expects 30 percent of its fleet to be converted to the diesel-electric hybrid technology. The buses are quieter and have better fuel efficiency. They also reduce emissions by 90 percent.

The new hybrids will run the in-town route, Vail Transportation Manager Mike Rose said. The buses are ideal for running at low speeds and stopping frequently, he said.

"From the day-to-day operations standpoint, they make a lot of sense," he said.

The hybrid technology adds up to $200,000 to the cost of the bus. That puts the price tag around $500,000. They also need a battery replacement after seven years, at the middle of the bus's life. That costs around $40,000.


But the fuel savings figure to make up for those premiums. The town says it will eventually save 19,000 gallons of diesel fuel per year.

The hybrid plans are coming together at a time when the town is spending more money on fuel because of rising gas prices. Rose said the town has, to date, already spent the money it budgeted for fuel for the whole year.

The town figures to get a couple hundred thousand dollars a year in federal funds to help buy the buses, Rose said. He said the town has been considering buying hybrids for the last few years.

"As technology comes along, everyone wants to take the high road," he said "Staff has put off buying hybrids for a number of years because of prohibitively high costs."

The town is still considering what company to buy the buses from. The first bus should be in operation at this time next year, he said. The plan is to buy seven more in 2008 and two in 2011, Rose said.


The town already has two Toyota Prius hybrid cars. They're also planning to buy a hybrid SUV next year. Vail tested a General Motors-technology hybrid bus in 2004.

There are 700 hybrid-electric buses in regular service in North America, with another 400 planned for delivery in 2006, a Federal Transportation Authority report said in August. Areas with the largest amount of hybrids in service include New York City, Seattle, Philadelphia, Long Beach, Calif., and Yosemite National Park.

RTD in Denver runs hybrid buses on the 16th Street Mall.

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How hybrids work


Hybrid vehicles are driven by two power sources: an internal combustion engine, which you'll find in typical cars and trucks, and one or more electric motors. The internal combustion engine powers the electric motors' batteries as it runs. The batteries then help to power the vehicle, taking some of the energy requirements off the engine. This allows the engine to run more efficiently, using less fuel and producing fewer emissions.

Source: General Motors

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Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 604, or estoner@vaildaily.com.



Vail, Colorado