Steamboat’s bus fleet getting safer, more fuel efficient | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat’s bus fleet getting safer, more fuel efficient

A Steamboat Springs Transit bus drives through wind and snow near the intersection of U.S. Highway 40 and Routt County Road 129.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Steamboat Springs Transit is getting a shiny new toy for Christmas.

The new diesel-electric hybrid bus rolling in from Hayward, California, this month will become the ninth hybrid vehicle in SST's fleet.

SST Manager Jonathan Flint said the brand new bus also comes with a few nifty features the other hybrid models don't have.

"One is depot mode, which basically is when the bus is stopped for any period of time, the diesel engine shuts out, and it will keep down the fumes when we're waiting in places like the Gondola Transit Center," Flint said.

The other feature on the bus will be an automated stop announcement system that will have a Siri-like voice tell riders when their stop is approaching.

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Stops will be announced in both English and Spanish.

Flint said it will take some time to program the announcement system so that it doesn't botch pronunciations of local places ranging from Chateaux Chamonix (sha-moo-nee) and Après (ah-prey) Ski Way.

"There's quite a few Nordic names," Flint said. "Most importantly, we're trying to make sure people know how to pronounce Yampa."

With the new hybrid bus, nearly half of SST’s local fleet is now using the more fuel-efficient hybrid system.

Seat belts added

Bus riders who hop aboard the city's regional bus that travels between Steamboat and Craig will start to notice they have the option of making their rides safer by clicking a seat belt.

The seat belts are being added in the wake of a head-on regional bus crash last year that sent several passengers to the hospital.

Four passengers and the bus driver were treated for injuries after the March 29 head-on crash with a Ford Explorer.

Investigators said the crash on U.S. Highway 40 in west Steamboat was caused by the driver of an SUV who lost control and veered into the opposite lane where the bus was traveling.

The crash left some regional bus riders fearing for their safety on subsequent trips without the option of wearing a seat belt.

"We're thrilled," Flint said of the new option on the regional buses.

Flint said the seat belts have recently been added to two of the four regional buses the city uses.

Belts will be added to the remaining two buses in the near future.

In some of the buses, the seats had to be replaced with brand new ones to accommodate the safety feature.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10.