Coast Transit Promotes Hybrid Electric Bus

Coast Transit Authority gave the public a glimpse of the future Monday.

CTA demonstrated a new hybrid electric bus. The vehicle is powered by onboard batteries which are re-charged by a diesel powered generator.

Coast Transit plans to use the hybrid buses in downtown Gulfport and Biloxi.

Those who took a free ride are impressed with the quiet engine and low emissions. Most riders notice the quietness first. Compared with traditional diesel engines, the noise from the hybrid electric is barely noticeable.

Ellen and Brittany DuVernay were impressed with the smooth ride and quiet sound.

"And I think everybody that's ridden it has made comments that it's so quiet on the inside and people walk by on the outside and listen and they don't hear it running," said Coast Transit Authority director, Reid Hopper.

The quiet ride may impress passengers most but the vehicle's efficiency and low emissions are important selling points for CTA. The Tennessee manufacturer describes the vehicle's micro turbine engine as the cleanest heavy duty bus engine available in the world.

CTA will initially purchase five of the hybrid electric buses. In the future, it may replace its entire fleet with this new technology.

The hybrid bus is part of Coast Transit's multi modal plan that includes building park and ride facilities in downtown Gulport and Biloxi.

"Our target date is to have the system up and running in Gulfport by June of 2003 for the opening of the federal courthouse. In Biloxi, we hope to have it up and running maybe even sooner than that," said Hopper.

Those who took a free test ride on the hybrid bus are giving it good reviews.

"I liked it very much. It's very smooth. Very, very nice," said one man who took a quick ride in downtown Gulfport.

Although the hybrid buses cost more than a standard diesel, the savings on lower maintenance makes up for the higher price tag.