[IMAGE]Lee-Tran-hybrid-2-full.jpg[/IMAGE]Fort Meyers, Fla.-based transit service Lee County Transit (Lee Tran), introduced its first hybrid bus to the public earlier this month at a ceremony hosted by Florida Gulf Coast University President Wilson G. Bradshaw and FGCU's Southwest Florida Center for Public and Social Policy.
In one of the most unique public-private partnerships seen in the transit industry in recent years, Lee County Transit (LeeTran) has partnered with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), ISE Corporation, and Coach Crafters Inc. to add to service the latest in mass transit hybrid technology.
An FTA grant of $52,000 and an FDOT grant of $150,000 allowed LeeTran to procure the first gasoline electric-hybrid technology bus used in Florida.
This technology provides higher fuel efficiency and emits over 40 percent less NOx (nitrogen oxide) than similar diesel hybrids. Although the fuel savings will vary depending upon driving conditions, LeeTran may see a 30 percent to 100 percent gain in fuel economy, according to agency officials.
FDOT has offered the services of the University of Southern Florida Center for Urban Transit Research (CUTR) to independently validate all of the data necessary to certify the vehicle for operation on Florida roadways.
The transit agency plans on purchasing several hybrid buses next year, including one that will service the Florida Gulf Coast University campus.
Coach Crafters of Tavares, Fla. was selected to provide maintenance support. "Transit agencies in California report that this technology provides a smooth, quiet ride and reduced maintenance costs due to increased brake life," said Steve Myers, transit director for LeeTran. "We plan to test the vehicle on a variety of routes and share the data with our partners in the industry. We will soon add three diesel hybrids to our fleet, giving us the opportunity to compare performance between the two technologies."