Vail to order hybrid bus, but not just yet
VAIL – The next six buses Mike Rose orders will go down the road the old-fashioned way. But the seventh will probably be different.The six buses Vail Transportation Manager Mike Rose orders this month will all run on old-fashioned diesel fuel. Toward the end of this year, though, Rose plans to put in an order for a bus that runs on hybrid technology, a combination of diesel and electric power. That technology is available to motorists in cars from Toyota and Honda. Ford makes a hybrid version of its small SUV, the Escape. Those vehicles, especially Toyota’s Prius, have been strong sellers.A hybrid bus has been in the town’s plans for a while. Last year, Rose was waiting on a federal grant before ordering one. With the grant in hand, Rose is now waiting until the end of this year, hoping he can get the town a better deal than the current sticker prices, which now range from $500,000 to $600,000. That’s roughly double the cost of a new diesel bus.Rose said he’s also looking around for other buyers, hoping a better price could be found by rolling Vail’s single bus order in with another transit agency’s order for several vehicles.In the world of mass transportation, hybrid vehicles have been around for several years. Some now run along the 16th Street Mall in Denver.
But Allison Transmissions, a division of General Motors, has a new system that the manufacturer says is more reliable, cleaner and more fuel efficient than older bus hybrids. GM claims its hybrids reduce emissions as much as 90 percent over conventional diesel vehicles.One of those new-style hybrids roamed the streets of Vail for a couple of days in May and was well-received by both town transit officials and riders.When Rose does order a hybrid, it will use the new technology. And if it’s ordered this fall, the new bus could be on the streets by 2006.”But it’s taken us as long as 18 months to get a new bus delivered,” Rose said.Vail’s hybrid bus will be the first on the streets, but it won’t be the last. Harry Taylor, director of Eagle County’s ECO Transit system, said his agency will probably order a hybrid in 2007.More hybrids are also in Rose’s plans for 2008 and 2010. Even if the town goes whole-hog for hybrids, it could take years to replace the town’s entire fleet.”We try to replace two or three buses a year,” Rose said. “That way the sticker shock isn’t so bad.”
Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 613, or email@example.com.==============By the numbers$282,850: Per-bus cost of the most recent vehicles Vail has ordered$600,000: Estimated cost of a diesel-electric hybrid bus
60: Percent better fuel mileage than a conventional bus (according to General Motors)35: Current Vail bus fleet$1.25: operating cost per mile for Vail’s current bus fleet$5: Operating cost per mile for old-tech hybrid buses on the 16th Street Mall in Denver======================Vail Daily, Vail Colorado