Green milestone: More than half of AATA's fleet of buses now using hybrid technology
Courtesy of AATA
Next week, when the new 2012 buses are put into service, the AATA officially will be able to say that more than half its fleet — 41 of 80 vehicles — is using hybrid technology.
CEO Michael Ford said that makes the AATA one of the greenest transit agencies in the nation. The buses provide both environmental benefits and cost savings, he said.
The AATA plans to retire less efficient buses that originally were purchased in 1996 when the new vehicles are put into service.
Two of the new vehicles will make it possible to implement service improvements along Washtenaw Avenue beginning on Jan. 30, AATA officials said.
A total of 2.6 million miles were driven in the last year by the AATA's current 78 buses, according to Mary Stasiak, a spokeswoman for the agency.
Hybrid buses reduce dependence on foreign oil, Stasiak said, citing figures that AATA's conventional buses achieve 3.51 miles per gallon of biodiesel on average, while the hybrids — which also use bio-diesel — achieve 4.53 miles per gallon.
Stasiak said 740,000 gallons of bio-diesel would have been purchased at an average cost of $2.96 for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30. By having 31 hybrid buses in the fleet, she said, the agency only purchased 645,000 gallons, saving $283,000 in fuel costs.
The AATA, which is building up momentum for a countywide expansion, has had success recently in securing federal grants, including for its purchases of hybrid buses.
The $6.4 million cost for the latest hybrid electric-diesel buses was paid through a combination of a $1.7 million Federal Transportation Administration Clean Fuels Grant, federal formula funds, and state matching funds, AATA officials said.
The new buses were made by California-based Gillig LLC. AATA officials said they meet all Buy America requirements stipulated in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, with all of the iron, steel and manufactured materials used in the buses produced in the U.S.
Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for AnnArbor.com. Reach him at email@example.com or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to AnnArbor.com's email newsletters.