JEFFERSON CITY - The carbon footprint just got a little smaller in two Missouri communities thanks to the Missouri Department of Transportation's Transit unit. The unit helped two local public transportation agencies each purchase a new hybrid vehicle that promises to run cleaner and cheaper than standard buses. These vehicles are now in service in Poplar Bluff and Warrensburg.
MoDOT bought the hybrid vehicles on behalf of OATS and Southeast Missouri Transportation Service, Inc., using federal transit funds to offset 80 percent of the cost. The hybrid electric technologies in these buses have the potential to reduce fuel use by up to 40 percent, lower maintenance costs by 30 percent and reduce emissions by up to 30 percent.
"We are excited to be among the first states to introduce hybrid technologies on rural transit routes," said Steve Billings, administrator of MoDOT's Transit unit. "Missouri is literally on the ground floor of this promising new technology. Over time, we will evaluate the performance and reliability of these vehicles to see how well they meet their potential for reducing harmful emissions, using less fuel and requiring less maintenance."
OATS, a not-for-profit public transportation system that serves 87 Missouri counties, will receive one of the new hybrid vehicles. It will be assigned to the Old Drum Bus route in Warrensburg.
"OATS is pleased to have the opportunity to test this hybrid vehicle with the Warrensburg service to determine its feasibility as a money saving measure," said Linda Yaeger, executive director of OATS, Inc. "We appreciate MoDOT assisting us in obtaining the hybrid."
SMTS will receive the other hybrid vehicle. This not-for-profit operation serves more than 10,000 people in a 20-county area in southeast Missouri. Its new hybrid bus will be used on the deviated (flexible) fixed-route transit service in Poplar Bluff.
"By introducing a hybrid vehicle, SMTS hopes to become a model for adopting hybrid technologies," said Bill Osborne, SMTS executive director. "The new vehicle will benefit the community by providing cleaner, quieter and more environmentally friendly operations and by reducing fuel and maintenance costs at a time when prices are rising to levels that could jeopardize our service."
MoDOT's Transit unit joined a multi-state, multi-agency consortium initiated by CALSTART's Hybrid Truck Users Forum in 2006 as part of a national pilot program to speed commercialization of smaller hybrid transit buses. The Small Hybrid Bus Working Group determined what they wanted in a hybrid vehicle. With MoDOT as the lead procurement agency, a successful group purchase was made through StarTrans-Azure Dynamics in 2009. As the hybrids are delivered, consortium members will gather and analyze information about their performance over time.
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