Steamboat Springs Steamboat Springs Transit's hybrid bus has proven so popular that drivers and passengers have just one complaint: There's only one of them.
That's set to change. The city of Steamboat Springs has been allocated grant funding that will allow it to purchase two additional diesel-electric hybrid buses to join the one it put into service in the winter.
"The vehicles have proven to be very popular both locally and nationally," Transit Operations Manager Jonathan Flint said. "Passengers and the drivers have really enjoyed the vehicle."
Flint said the city initially purchased just one hybrid bus to see whether it would truly achieve meaningful fuel savings.
"It sounded like a very good option, but we wanted to get a single bus to test it in our environment," Flint said. "I'd like to have a full year, but we really have been noticing some trends with it."
So far, Flint said the bus has achieved 27 percent better fuel mileage than standard diesel buses, and it uses 31 percent less fuel per hour. While an average SST bus will use about 7,000 gallons of diesel fuel a year, the hybrid is on track to use between 5,100 and 5,200 gallons. Flint said the city currently is paying about $3 a gallon for diesel. At that price, the hybrid is on track to save the city between $5,400 to $5,700 in fuel costs annually.
Flint also said the low-floor design of the hybrid bus and its automatic climate control system have made it very popular with drivers and passengers. The hybrid's regeneration system also reduces wear on brake pads.
The total cost of the two new buses is $1.2 million. About $920,000 of the cost will be covered by grants. The rest will be paid for by the city. Flint said U.S. Rep. John Salazar, D-Manassa, was instrumental in securing the grant funding for one of the two buses.
"I'm glad that this funding will help the city of Steamboat enhance their transit service with the addition of another hybrid bus," Salazar said in a news release. "This technology is just one piece in solving our challenging energy puzzle, and I applaud Steamboat for taking this proactive step."
Now that the city's first hybrid bus has proven itself, Flint said he's happy the city was granted enough funds to purchase multiple hybrid buses at once.
"The funding is great," city grant writer Winnie DelliQuadri said in a news release. "We wouldn't be able to buy this bus without it. We have one hybrid bus in our fleet, and it's great. We're working to be environmentally sustainable, and we wouldn't be able to do it without these grant dollars."
Gillig Corp., of Hayward, Calif., will begin manufacturing the buses in August or September 2010. The city anticipates delivery of the buses in late 2010 and hopes to put them in service by early 2011.