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Hybrid buses saving fuel, cutting pollution on the North Coast

EUREKA- They are hard to miss: big, noisy and sometimes smelly.

But the Humboldt Transit Authority is changing the face of countywide public transportation, one bus at a time.

“Most of what you see in older buses is the plum of black smoke that comes out as you take off,” said Jim Wilson, facility and maintenance manager at the Humboldt Transit Authority. “This will not do that. It's all electric when you take off, eliminating any smoke at takeoff, and then blending mechanical power later.”

It’s called a hybrid bus. It runs off of both an electric motor and a small diesel engine. Since their deployment on the Redwood Transit Fleet in 2007, they’ve saved the transit authority over 35 percent in fuel.

“I think the biggest importance is cleaner air, less fuel, less emissions. They burn greener and cleaner, and are a lot more comfortable inside without all of the noise,” Wilson said.

The hybrids now make up almost 50 percent of the Redwood Transit fleet, with 7 out of the 15 buses being hybrids.  The Humboldt transit authority recently bought two new hybrids in April.

“Funding is federally funded, state funded and local match. So it's all grant money, depending on how much grant money is out there,” said Wilson. “It depends on what type of vehicle we get. So we were able to get two hybrids and three clean diesel buses.”

But Redwood Transit is not the only fleet with hybrid buses, you can catch an environmentally friendly ride on one of Eureka Transit Service’s two hybrids.

And in a time when cutting down CO2 emissions is essential, you might want to reconsider a ride on the bus.