Steamboat Springs Steamboat Springs Transit driver Linda Wellman might be just as excited to drive the two new hybrid buses unveiled by the city Thursday as some passengers are to ride in them.
“They will certainly have an environmental impact and be a huge plus for Steamboat,” said Wellman, who has logged more than 23,000 hours as a bus driver for the city. “I’m very excited about them having air conditioning.”
The city now has three hybrid buses, and the two new vehicles will begin operation as early as today. The hybrids were bought as part of a $1.1 million project and paid for by federal grants, 20 percent of which were matched by the city.
Jonathan Flint, operations manager for the city’s transit department, said the success and popularity of the first hybrid bus introduced in the city nearly two years ago convinced him that Steamboat needed more. An additional door on the city’s first hybrid bus allowed passengers to enter and exit simultaneously, and a low floor feature made loading ski equipment onto the vehicle easier in the winter.
“These buses have proven to be very convenient for our drivers and passengers,” he said. “The whole hybrid system also gets us a 27 percent increase in fuel mileage.”
Like the city’s first hybrid, the new vehicles feature a climate control system and quieter operation. The new buses have been equipped with adjustable pedals for the drivers, reflective decals, and the ability to have their maintenance status checked wirelessly.
Transit driver Lynn Wilhelm said the hybrid buses not only achieve better gas mileage than the older vehicles in the fleet, but they also help the transit department save money on maintenance. He said because they have smaller diesel engines, they require less oil to operate.
“The hybrid bus we have been previously operating usually served on a line that had it making longer trips, and it would use 30 percent less fuel per hour than our other vehicles on the same route,” he said. “We’re saving money two ways when it’s all said and done.”