Monday, March 19, 2012
LeeTran adding hybrid buses to its fleet
NBC-2 News report 3/19/12
By the end of this year, you'll see new, hybrid buses on Lee County streets. A multi-million dollar grant is helping LeeTran upgrade its fleet and save big bucks on fuel.
As gas inches closer to $4 a gallon, more people are hopping on the bus."Insurance and gas it's just too much," said bus rider, Joe Dicks. In fact, LeeTran ridership is up 20-25 percent over the past six months.
"When fuel creeps up, people realize they can save a lot of money by riding the bus," said Joann Haley with LeeTran. And those riders are about to feel an upgrade. LeeTran already has a handful of hybrid buses on the road. And by the end of the year, 24 brand new hybrids will join the fleet.
"More than half our fleet at that point will be hybrids," Haley said. A $13.9-million grant from the Federal Transit Administration is covering the bill.
The new buses don't have to plug in at a station like you might think. They have a diesel engine and electric batteries. And when the batteries wear down, the diesel engine kicks in and will actually recharge the batteries at the same time.
The technology upgrade means fuel savings. Haley explained that over the life of each hybrid vehicle, LeeTran will save 41,386 gallons of diesel fuel. And if you multiply that by 24 buses, the county will save about 993,264 gallons. Considering that half of LeeTran's budget comes from county funding, the move will actually save taxpayer dollars and support American jobs.
"They're made in California using parts from all over the country," Haley said.