Hybrid buses coming to Breckenridge | SummitDaily.com

Hybrid buses coming to Breckenridge

summit daily news
Summit County, CO Colorado

BRECKENRIDGE ” Thanks to a $303,000 federal and state grant, Summit County’s first hybrid buses should be rolling through downtown Breckenridge by sometime next winter.

“We’re optimistic they will save gas and cut emissions,” said transit director Jim Benkelman, explaining that he eventually plans to have four of the high-tech vehicles operating in his fleet. The exact timing depends mostly on how and when future grants come through, he said.

The 40-foot hybrid buses cost about $500,000 each compared to about $330,000 for the standard 30-foot all-diesel buses.

“This is the first chance we’ve had to do a grant-funded bus replacment,” Benkelman said, explaining that the transit department was directed some time ago by the town council to look at options for replacing its diesel buses with cleaner vehicles.

“Our intention is to do the right thing for the environment,” he said. General estimates of fuel saving range from 12 to 28 percent for hybrids versus standard diesel buses, but there is only limited data from high elevation operations, so it’s not clear if Breck’s new buses will reach those benchmarks.

Vail is running one hybrid bus in its fleet, and Aspen has a couple, Benkelman said.

Similarly, the town hasn’t quantified the reduction in emissions. But Benkelman said that, based on the way the hybrids operate, he expects them to be running in the electric mode most of the time.

Essentially, the hybrid vehicles run on an electric drive up to speeds of 17 mph. Above that speed, the diesel kicks in. Since the town’s buses often go only a few hundred yards between stops, they are generally running in the 15 mph range, Benkelman said.

Even when they do switch to the diesel engine at the higher speed, the engine will already be operating in its powerband, Benkelman said, That means passengers, pedestrians and other motorists won’t see the buses belch clouds of black smoke when the diesel kicks in.

The hybrids have great acceleration and that passengers will notice they are much quieter and smoother-shifting ” like a golf cart, according to Benkelman.

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