Cleaner buses to soon hit Burlington streets

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(Host) Cleaner buses will soon hit the streets of northwestern Vermont.

The Chittenden County Transportation Authority bought six new buses to replace some 16-year-old vehicles.

They run on clean, “ultra-low sulfur” diesel, part of a bio-diesel blend.

VPR’s Ross Sneyd reports:

(Sound of bus idling)

(Sneyd) When one of the 2007 model “Gillig” buses idles outside CCTA headquarters, it pumps about 95% less “particulate emissions” into the atmosphere than the bus it replaces.

CCTA General Manager Chris Cole says the sleek new buses also produce 75% less “carbon monoxide” emissions.

Cole says greenhouse gas emissions will be cut even more dramatically when another half-dozen buses go into service later this summer.

(Cole) “In one fell swoop we are replacing a fifth of the fleet. And at 95% reductions in particulate emissions and other greenhouse gases, with vehicles that operate 14 hours a day on our city streets, you really can’t overstate the emission reduction that’s going to make.”

(Sneyd) CCTA is Vermont’s largest transit agency and it’s been growing.

Popular commuter routes now run between Burlington and cities in neighboring counties.

The authority also is expanding its headquarters in the south end of Burlington so it has more indoor space to park its fleet of 55 buses.

(Cole) “Our services in the last six years have expanded and expanded dramatically. There’s a tremendous desire in this region for public transportation services.”

(Sneyd) Senator Patrick Leahy and retired Senator Jim Jeffords arranged for $2 million in federal money to pay for six of the new vehicles.

Leahy says Vermont can set an example even for big-city transit agencies.

(Leahy) “We have the future of CCTA’s bus fleet: quick, clean, efficient.”

(Sneyd) The new buses are equipped with a fold-down ramp for the disabled, and racks on the front to carry bicycles.

Chapin Spencer is the executive director of Local Motion, which promotes bicycling, walking and running.

He also serves on the CCTA board and he says the new buses integrate transportation for the northwestern corner of the state.

(Spencer) “The really neat thing is, if we’re going to solve climate change, we need to look at a multi-modal solution, so that people can walk to a bus stop, take the bus, bike to work, because the bus is not always going to go from point to point. So I’m thrilled with this day with the new buses.”

(Sneyd) Six new 35-passenger buses will roll out on routes in Burlington and its suburbs in the next week or so.

Another six, slightly larger buses, will begin serving the commuter routes to Montpelier, Middlebury and Saint Albans some time in August.

For VPR News, I’m Ross Sneyd, in Burlington.

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