City will get new buses |

City will get new buses

Michael Schneider

South Shore will soon have four new passenger transit buses, one with an alternative energy source.

“This is a good opportunity to test that technology here in Lake Tahoe,” City Manager Kerry Miller said.

Each bus will cost $144,000 with the bus with a natural gas engine costing $187,000. The city traded in four buses – each about a 10 years old – to chip $28,500 off the price, making the total cost $619,000.

State and county funds became available to specially outfit the natural gas engine bus provided by A-Z Bus Sales of Sacramento, Miller said at Tuesday’s City Council meeting. The cleaner-burning engine bus will cost $43,000 more than one with a diesel-fuel engine.

The natural gas engine burns significantly cleaner fuel than diesel bus engines, according to Gunnar Henrioulle, who recently ran for City Council on an alternative transportation platform.

Rating the pollution on a scale of 1 to 10 with No. 1 being the worst, Henrioulle said diesel fuel is about a “3 or 4.” He said natural gas is about an “8 or 9” on the same scale.

The California Energy Commission approved a $40,000 grant to build a fuel dispenser for the bus, the city reported. Private contributions will also help fund the pump.

Most of the remaining $548,000 was paid for from $1 million state grant which was procured by the city, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and Area Transit Management. The entire grant totaled $1.8 million, so the Tahoe Basin got more than half.

Ken Daly of ATM said half the grant went to North Shore while the rest went toward the purchase of the new buses.

The remaining portion came from the TRPA air quality mitigation funds.

The buses must be delivered by June.

Council member Tom Davis said the new buses will have exhaust pipes on their roofs to keep fumes away from pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists.

Daly said the plans call for all the buses to have a similar design after the Coordinated Transit System, a South Shore public transportation system using global positioning satellites, is in place. Portions of the CTS are scheduled to be operating within a year.

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