University looks to replace diesel buses with hybrids

The current buses, which run on diesel fuel, must spend a minimum of 12 years on the road before they are eligible to be replaced, IU Campus Bus Service Operations Manager Perry Maull said. Eighteen of the 27 campus buses reached 12 years on the road this year and are now due for replacement.

The nine other buses range from 2002 to 2005 and are not in need of replacement for another two to five years.

With the replacement, the Campus Bus Service is looking to purchase hybrid electric buses, similar to those used by Bloomington Transit.

IU Office of Sustainability Director Bill Brown said the old buses have their share of shortcomings.

“They’re aging diesel buses, so they’re not going to be the latest in technology in terms of pollution control,” he said.

Brown said the proposed hybrid buses would greatly reduce fuel costs and emissions.
“They’re a good idea from both standpoints — financially in the long-term and environmentally,” he said.

The University filed a federal grant application earlier this month, Maull said.
A single hybrid electric bus costs $565,000, and it would total more than $10 million to replace 18 buses at one time.

If the grant is approved in July, the Campus Bus Service will try to start replacing the buses four at a time.

Staggering the replacement of the buses will alleviate demands on the Campus Bus Service, Maull said.

“We don’t want to have that happen again where we have all the buses from the same year,” he said. “We want to do it a few at a time each year so we’re not trying to replace 18 buses all at once.”

If the University receives funding for the replacement, the new buses will be on campus by late 2013 or early 2014, Maull said.

If denied funding, either partially or entirely, the University will consider replacing the old buses with new diesel buses.

“Any new bus would be better than the buses we currently have, but that’s not the goal here,” Maull said. “We want the hybrids.”

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