Jan. 14, 2010

CyRide will add hybrid technology to its fleet this year

by Anne Krapfl

If you typically rely on the diesel engine rumble of an approaching CyRide bus to know whether you should stroll or sprint the last 50 yards to your bus stop, you may have to come up with another foolproof system.

CyRide will add 15 buses -- 12 of them hybrid electric buses -- to its large bus fleet (currently 59 buses) this year. The vehicles, to be identified as "Cybrids," will run on biodiesel and electric engines. The first nine should arrive by late June; the other six will be ready later next fall, said Sheri Kyras, director of transit. Ames will have the largest hybrid bus fleet in the state, she added.

In addition to being quieter than diesel buses, the hybrids reduce carbon emissions by one-third and will help shrink the department's $1 million fuel budget through improved mileage, Kyras said.

CyRide will supplement federal stimulus funds and a federal transportation grant with operating funds to pay for the new fleet. It will cost about $6 million to purchase the buses, 12 of which will have the hybrid technology.

For the past week, CyRide has conducted an online survey to get input on three decorative finish options for the hybrid fleet. Voting closes at 8 a.m. Jan. 15, and CyRide staff will tally the votes and announce the winning design by Jan. 20. As of Jan. 12, more than 2,000 votes had been submitted.