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LeeTran going ‘green’ with three hybrid buses

By Staff | Dec 16, 2008

Lee County has purchased three hybridized buses that will become part of the LeeTran fleet in about a year.
The purchase, at a total cost of $1,736,586, was unanimously approved by county commissioners, which “piggybacks” a competitive bidding process carried out by San Mateo County, Calif.
The hybrid vehicles will ultimately replace three buses in the LeeTran fleet with upward of 800,000 miles each.
Lee County Transit Director Steve Myers expects the new buses to reduce maintenance costs and the impact on the environment.
The hybrid buses use the same diesel technology as the current LeeTran buses, but will switch to electrical mode when accelerating or decelerating up to 15 mph.
The engines then activate a “blended mode,” a combination of electric and diesel, from 15-35 mph. Over 35 mph the vehicle operates in full diesel mode.
Myers said the buses would reduce nitrous oxide by 30 percent, and carbon emissions would be brought down 75 percent.
County transportation staff said there will also be an estimated fuel savings of 10 percent to 40 percent, depending on the type of service operated.
Staff said “urban routes” would save the most money, as acceleration and deceleration are more common.
“The green issues are the most important,” Myers said. “We have not seen a green industry (in public transportation), despite taking people off the roads.”
Commission Chairman Ray Judah said the county is now “ahead of the curve” by ordering the new buses, though transportation staff was unable to verify how many of Florida’s 67 counties currently utilize hybrid technology.
Commissioner Frank Mann commended Myers for stretching the life of LeeTran buses, some of which are approaching one million miles of service.
“That’s the way taxpayer dollars should be used,” Mann said.
Transportation staffers said it is “a fair assumption” that more hybrid buses could find their way into the LeeTran fleet if the money is available to purchase them.