Getting from Point A to Point B may be a little greener these days for some schools and universities. Hybrid buses are being used for transportation here in Connecticut and as far away as Wyoming.
According to IC Bus, an Illinois-based subsidiary of Navistar, Inc., the largest manufacturer of school buses in the country, the average school bus uses over 1,700 gallons of fuel annually. The average hybrid, however, uses less than half that at 600 gallons. The hybrid buses also reduce emissions up to 40%.
Here are some other amazing statistics IC Bus would like you to know: The daily fuel cost of transporting a child to school by private vehicle costs $3.68 while the same child taking the bus only costs 73 cents; One school bus has the capacity to take 36 cars off the road, with a total of 17.3 million cars every year; If 10% more children rode the bus, another 300 million gallons of fuel would be saved annually.
These quick, little facts may not pop into your head when you see a big yellow bus belching exhaust in front of you at the stoplight. But many school officials are seeing buses as a way to be greener and cleaner.
Take Fairfield University, for instance. With close to 4,000 undergraduate and 1,000 graduate students, the school implemented a hybrid bus replacing one of their diesel-fueled shuttles. Their buses transport people all over campus and into the nearby town center. Having one that reduces carbon emissions is even better.
In a press release from the school dated March 8th, James Fitzpatrick, Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs and a member of their Sustainability Committee, said the bus “addresses our campus carbon footprint and enhances our priority of doing all possible to making a green campus.”
The university’s CitiBus model, manufactured by Michigan-based Azure Dynamics, can lead to a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to conventional buses. It also has the ability to achieve up to a 40% improvement in fuel economy. The hybrid needs less maintenance than a regular bus, which can result in a 30% reduction in maintenance costs.
But wait, there’s more! Fairfield University has a car and bike sharing program. With their “Connect with Hertz” contract launched in September, four vehicles are provided for student use. One vehicle is a hybrid while the others boast their fuel efficiency. And, Trek Bicycle Store in the center of town provides five bicycles for students to get around campus free of charge.
“Fairfield University is committed to environmentally responsible solutions and to seeking clean energy alternatives,” said David Frassinelli, Vice President and Director of Facilities Management at the university as well as the chair of their Sustainability Committee. “It is part of a very comprehensive effort at work to support the Catholic Jesuit mission of caring for the environment, both locally and globally.”
The school has been pleased with the car and bike programs. Adding the hybrid bus is just one more way they can help the environment. The school has already seen a noticeable decrease in the number of on-campus student cars.
But Fairfield University is not alone is the quest for a better bus. In Wyoming, the Associated Press reported on February 20th that the state has purchased a diesel hybrid bus. In order to test the bus in different altitudes and traffic conditions, they plan to rotate its use among the various school districts. They purchased the bus with the funds allotted from the EPA’s Clean Diesel Grant Program.
Kentucky did the same thing early last fall. The state received a $12.9 million grant from the Kentucky Clean Fuels Coalition (KCFC) to replace 200 of their oldest buses with the new hybrid ones. “Clean fuel technology is not just the wave of the future—it’s here now, and our schools are an excellent venue to showcase the benefits,” said Kentucky Covernor Steve Beshear as stated in a government press release dated September 2, 2009.
Where schools and universities have taken the hybrid buses seriously, other transportation officials have been heeding the environmental call as well. According to Bloomberg News, New York Metropolitan Transit Authority was scheduled to purchase 850 hybrid buses to add to their fleet in October, 2007. With one of the largest transportation systems in the U.S., cutting their greenhouse gas emissions is a substantial feat.
South Carolina took the recent Winter Olympics in Vancouver as their opportunity to use a hydrogen hybrid bus. The bus is a mobile test laboratory for the University of South Carolina. It was driven to Golden, CO to be equipped with appropriate heating operations for the fuel cell that generates its power as well as passenger comfort. The bus transported athletes and spectators alike.
A bus here or there makes a change. But new fleets nationwide can make a big difference. It is this kind of difference that changes our environment and the way we live. And, it’s all for the better.
Image courtesy of TruckTrends.com.