Summit buses going hybrid |

Summit buses going hybrid

Jane StebbinsSummit County correspondent

FRISCO – Move over, biodiesel. Hybrids are on their way.The Environmental Protection Agency released a report Tuesday announcing that in 2007 engines must be built with new clean-air specifications that will reduce sulfur to 15 parts per million, oxides of nitrogen and non-methane hydrocarbons by 50 percent and particulate matter by 100 percent.By 2010, those standards will be further decreased to zero.That, said Summit Stage director John Jones, will probably spell the end of biodiesel.”It’s not going to be worthwhile to sink a lot of money into the biodiesel program,” he said. “Come 2010, it will be a moot issue. I think we need to explore the option of going to hybrid vehicles.”The 37 vehicles the Summit Stage currently has will be permitted to run the rest of their lives, but any new vehicles the Stage buys after 2007 and 2010 must meet the new clean-air standards.Biodiesel has been hailed as the fuel of the future by many cities throughout the United States. It involves mixing 80 percent diesel fuel with 20 percent of a soybean product. The result is cleaner emissions.Manufactures are currently working on four-chambered mufflers, particulate filters and more efficient fuel-injection systems to meet the new standards. So far, Caterpillar, Toyota and Hino have met the 2007 standards and are working on technology to meet the 2010 requirements.None, however, have determined if the hybrids will work well at high altitudes, Jones said. He recommended the transit board consider conducting a demonstration project to see how the engines function here.Breckenridge transit director Jim Benkleman said he’s not sure if manufacturers will address issues that come with running fleets at high altitudes.”There are fewer than 1,000 buses in the world that operate at over 7,000 feet,” Benkleman said. “The market is so small. And many only warranty them up to certain altitudes. We need to talk to Congress to see if we can maybe bypass the 2007 standards or change the warranty issues.”