Louisville, Ky., School District to Become Largest Operator of Hybrid School Buses in Nation

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Jefferson County Public School announced this month that it is on course to add 32 hybrid school buses to its fleet in time for the start of the 2011-2012 school year.

Jim Engler, Jefferson County’s assistant director of vehicle maintenance, said some of the district’s 66,000 school bus riders will reap the benefits of the buses that are estimated to get between 20 and 30 percent improved fuel economy. The 32 hybrids will bring the district’s fleet to a total of 1,226 buses in the fleet, up from the current number of 1,187 buses. Engler added that bus routes in 2011-2012 will also increase to 929.

The school district received 16 Saf-T-Liner C2e Thomas Built Buses from Whayne Supply Company in Louisville on April 22 and is expecting another shipment in July of 16 IC Bus CE Series Hybrids from Bluegrass International in Georgetown, Ky. As a result, Superintendent Dr. Sheldon Berman said Jefferson County would become the largest owner and operator of hybrid school buses in the nation. And the district could realize “substantial cost savings.”

Engler added that those savings would allow Jefferson County to replace school buses that are more than 20 years old. He also said the transportation carbon footprint is expected to be reduced by more than 98 percent.

The Thomas hybrid buses were expected to be put into service by the beginning of May, according to Engler, and bus drivers were scheduled to undergo a special hybrid training program before they actually drive them on route.

“Our mechanics have already been through a hybrid training class that lasted approximately 2.5 hours,” Engler said.

The first hybrid bus was earmarked for Nelson Taylor, who has driven 39 years for Jefferson County Public Schools and has received outstanding driver awards for each of those years of service.