Buff Buses run more efficiently than RTD
CU is leading the way in alternative fuels by using biodiesel in all of the Buff Buses.
Biodiesel, a blend of broken down plant material and regular diesel fuel, can reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from vehicles by 40 to 60 percent, according to the United Nations Energy Program.
This alternative fuel can be used in any engine that runs on normal diesel fuel, making it easy to implement biodiesel use in bus fleets because most buses run on diesel.
In 2003, students passed a referendum to increase student fees by 50 cents per semester for four years; a portion of this money was used to switch the Buff Buses to biodiesel.
“I think the big thing was the environmental impact,” said Bryan Flansburg, CU’s director of transportation.
Other transportation services in the Boulder area are experimenting with alternative fuels.
All buses run by Denver’s RTD now use ultra-low sulfur diesel. RTD has also been running a pilot program which is testing the efficiency of four hybrid buses.
“The intent was to see if the operating cost reduction offset the additional cost of purchasing the hybrid vehicles,” said Scott Reed, the RTD general manager of public affairs.
A regular RTD bus costs around $290,000, while the hybrid buses cost around $490,000.
“So far we have not seen the cost savings that would justify the additional expense,” Reed said.
Bus services run by the city of Boulder are also attempting to use alternative fuels, but the process has been set back by technical and logistical difficulties.
The Hop bus line attempted the switch to biodiesel in one of their buses in 2004, but maintenance problems caused the project to be abandoned.
Rich Burns, Boulder’s operations director for special transit said engine manufacturers will not guarantee their engines when biodiesel is used, and because biodiesel freezes below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, the buses would have to be parked indoors.
“We want to be able to participate,” Burns said. “The technology is always improving, you just have to keep your eyes and ears open.”
Contact Campus Press Staff Writer Rob Ryan at firstname.lastname@example.org.