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Old 09-04-2009, 02:56 AM   #1
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Default Napa bus will have engine similar to Prius' Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin

Kids in Napa won't hear the usual "clackety clack" of a diesel engine when district bus HY-2 lumbers up to their stop next month.

In fact, when the bus is sitting still, they won't hear anything at all.

Within a week or two, Napa Valley Unified School District will premiere one of the first small hybrid buses in the nation, thanks to state grants aimed at curbing school bus emissions and a transportation manager's aggressive campaign to green his fleet.

"I just got tired of seeing the commercials with the big puff of black smoke coming out of the tailpipe of school buses," said Ralph Knight, transportation supervisor for the 17,000-student school district.

Bus HY-2 is technically the second hybrid the district owns, but it is the first in California to use an engine similar to that of the Toyota Prius, which relies on both gasoline and electricity. The bus, which will carry children with special needs, will get an estimated 15 miles to the gallon, up from about 10 miles.

The district's first hybrid, a standard-size plug-in, was purchased in 2007 - the first, and until now, the only other hybrid school bus in use in California, according to state air regulators. It was one of only a handful produced through the work of a North Carolina nonprofit that promotes sustainable energy.

Officials at Collins Bus Corp., the South Hutchinson, Kan., firm that made HY-2, hope to find a broader audience for their hybrid.

"This is a great application for schools," said John Doswell, vice president of sales and marketing at Collins. "Most of these buses sit in line waiting to pick up the kids at the end of the day, and they're belching fumes. These don't run while they're stopped at all."

Still, with a price tag of more than $140,000, the Collins bus isn't affordable to most California school districts, which are facing steep cuts to transportation budgets as part of the state's effort close a gaping budget hole. Knight said a conventional small bus costs almost half that of HY-2 - about $76,000.

That's where California policymakers seem to be at cross-purposes, according to school transportation officials. Amid the cutbacks, school districts are also required to replace or retrofit many of their diesel buses by 2018 as part of the state's sweeping plan to reduce school bus pollution and to slash overall carbon emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

Studies by the California Air Resources Board show that while traveling in buses with windows closed, children are exposed to pollution at significantly higher levels than in the air surrounding the bus.

"Frankly, you'd see a lot more hybrid buses, but school districts are having a hard time putting any bus on the road at this point," said Ron Kinney, executive secretary for the California School Transportation Association in Sacramento. "What Ralph has been able to put together is pretty rare."

Knight, whose fleet also includes more than 30 buses that run on compressed natural gas, is thankful some state bond money for bus purchases still remains (local and state grants effectively paid for the HY-2). In 2006, Californians voted to spend $200 million to upgrade and swap out older diesel buses. So far, $83 million has been disbursed; officials are waiting for sale of additional bonds to fund the rest.

"If it wasn't for the grant money, we wouldn't be able to do this," Knight said.

Not one to stop there, Knight is now talking with Ford about developing a car for the school district that would be powered by a fuel cell, a device that uses an electrochemical reaction. Typical hydrogen fuel cells give off not carbon dioxide but water vapor.

"You have to dig and dig and turn over rocks to make this happen," Knight said

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Old 09-04-2009, 02:57 AM   #2
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Sell more Bonds Cal.
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Old 09-04-2009, 09:03 AM   #3
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$5 says one of these kids will get run over because they couldn't hear the bus
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Old 09-04-2009, 09:27 AM   #4
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What is funny if buses are tuned properly, they do not puff smoke. Near where I live south of Houston, the school buses all run pretty clean. Granted they are not diesel. It would have been cheaper to replace them with normal gas burning buses. This is yet another example of Cali spending $$$$$$$ to gain next to nothing. They are willing to spend big dollars on all these little outlier piss ant problems, but will not tackle the big ones.

things like no black cars.
mandatory window tint
hybrid school busses

How about this California, build a nuke plant or two and fully supply your state with power.
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