RFTA’s first hybrid buses hit the road | AspenTimes.com

RFTA’s first hybrid buses hit the road

Joel Stonington

Four hybrid buses rolled into service in the Roaring Fork Valley on Friday, with three more scheduled for delivery next fall.

The diesel-electric buses have significantly lower emissions than regular diesel versions and are far more fuel efficient. And innovative technologies reduce wear and tear on the buses, meaning they won’t need as many repairs.

“We’re proud to have these buses,” Aspen Mayor Helen Klanderud said. “We will use biodiesel fuels, made from agricultural means, and we will reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”

Three of the buses will be used on the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority’s valley routes; one is dedicated to Aspen’s in-town fleet.

The GM Allison Hybrid System used in the hybrid buses can reduce up to 90 percent of particulates, hydrocarbons and carbon dioxide, and up to 50 percent of nitrogen oxides, from the vehicles’ emissions.

They are designed and built by a number of different companies, including GM, New Flyer, and Stewart and Stevenson, the retrofitter of hybrid technology. More than 25 cities have begun to switch their bus fleets over to these hybrids. Seattle has already purchased 236 of the buses and seen a 40 percent increase in fuel economy.

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The buses are also much more quiet than a diesel bus. Emissions and noise are both key concerns where local buses are concerned, Klanderud noted.

The buses cost roughly $590,000 apiece, nearly double what a diesel bus would have cost.

“Sometimes you just do what’s right to do,” County Commissioner Dorothea Farris said.

Participants at the unveiling ceremony said the extra cost would pay off in the end, financially and in preserving the environment and helping head off global climate change.

“Our board has made the decision,” said Kenny Osier, head of maintenance at RFTA, “that if the money is available, we’ll buy them.”

Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is jstonington@aspentimes.com

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