LexTran unveiled seven energy-efficient new buses Wednesday. Two operate on hybrid electric technology, and the five others run on diesel-powered engines that adhere to the 2010 Clean Air Act, featuring an additional air scrubber that produces cleaner exhaust emissons.
Jill Barnett, spokeswoman for Lexington's public transportation agency, said the new buses were part of LexTran's efforts to "go green," coupled with the agency's need for new buses. There are more than 70 buses in the fleet. A bus lasts about 12 years, Barnett said.
The money for the buses came from a $2.94 million 2009 earmark from U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell.
Barnett said LexTran's goal is to eventually buy more hybrids. For now, buying some hybrid and some diesel-powered buses with the grant allowed LexTran to buy more buses at one time. One hybrid bus costs $524,257, and one diesel-powered bus costs $325,074, Barnett said.
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"As we order new buses, we will do our best to order a mix of hybrid and diesel," Barnett said. "As hybrid technology becomes more advanced, hopefully it will be more affordable."
The hybrids run off both electricity and gasoline. They're capable of running for the full 17 hours that LexTran buses are in use because the battery recharges each time the bus brakes.
With the new buses, LexTran introduced a new logo and color scheme, adding green to its existing blue.
The two hybrid buses are each 35 feet long, and the five diesel buses are each 29 feet long.
Most of LexTran's other buses are 40 feet long.
Barnett said the shorter buses will better suit routes that have a smaller number of riders.
"We've taken a progressive step with the purchase of additional hybrid technology and hope people see our new look as progressive, also," LexTran General Manager Rocky Burke said in a release. "We're fortunate to have had the opportunity to purchase new buses, including smaller vehicles that the community has requested many times."
LexTran varies the routes that each bus takes, so no specific areas will be designated for the new buses.