Hybrid KRT buses boast several safety features - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Hybrid KRT buses boast several safety features

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The hybrid buses that began popping up in Kanawha County a couple of years ago already are outdated, but that doesn't mean the buses aren't technologically savvy.

James Snodgrass, a supervisor with Kanawha Valley Regional Transportation Authority, explained to firefighters at the 2013 West Virginia Public Safety Expo how safety features on the hybrid buses protect riders and drivers.

"It's pretty good technology," Snodgrass said.

A bus' batteries are encased along the top of the bus, and a drip pan keeps battery acid from leaking into the cab of the bus in the event of an emergency. Snodgrass said the bus is loaded with "redundant safety features," so first responders don't have to worry much about being electrocuted when attempting to shut off power to a wrecked hybrid bus.

In addition to modern safety features, the hybrid buses also save money. Snodgrass said the hybrids use one-fourth the amount of fuel of a regular bus, and newer technology increases fuel economy an additional eight to 10 miles per gallon. That's because the hybrids run off diesel fuel and electricity simultaneously. And in stop-and-go city traffic, the fuel economy of the hybrids actually doubles. 

But there is a down side. The hybrid buses have less horsepower.  

Snodgrass said the hybrids cost $950,000 when purchased a few years ago. Now, more modern hybrid buses cost half that.

"This would be the cheap way to go now," Snodgrass said.