Kentucky's Transit Authority of River City (TARC) plans to further green its bus fleet using federal stimulus funding. TARC, which serves the greater Louisville community, expects to receive $17.6 million and will use $5.37 million on 10 hybrid buses, according to the agency's Executive Director Barry Barker.

The agency's fleet is comprised of 260 buses, nine of which are electric-diesel hybrids. Three more hybrids will be added in May or June, and the stimulus-provided 10 will hopefully arrive by spring 2010. For each hybrid bus added to the fleet, one traditional bus is taken off the streets. Gillig Corp. of Hayward, Calif., makes TARC's hybrids.

"Any chance we can get to buy buses, we're going to jump on," Barker said. "We've in fact got a backlog of old buses that we'd like to get rid of. Of course, when you replace them with hybrids, the uptake in fuel economy and air quality reduced emissions is significant."

Barker said purchasing the 10 hybrid buses will create 70 jobs, according to a formula that was developed and from discussions with engine and seat manufacturers among others. Gillig has already hired 30 people to prepare for its upcoming work on the buses, he said.

Each bus costs about $537,000 -- that's approximately $200,000 more than its clean-diesel counterpart. Barker said each hybrid bus uses about 3,000 gallons of gas less annually than the old buses. Depending on gas prices in Louisville, TARC can save up to $12,000 per bus each year.

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Elaine Rundle  |  Staff Writer