Steamboat’s bus fleet getting safer, more fuel efficient
December 11, 2017
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.
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.