Port Authority to buy 20 more hybrid buses

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The Port Authority plans to buy 20 more hybrid buses similar to a half-dozen that have been in service since Earth Day 2005.

The board's Performance Oversight Committee intends to recommend the purchase at next week's monthly meeting.

The authority will "piggyback" on a procurement contract through the transit agency in Akron, Ohio, which is buying a dozen of the 40-foot-long, low-floor buses for itself from the Gillig Corp. of California.

The price is steep -- $561,541, or about $150,000 more than a conventional diesel-powered bus. But authority officials said the extra money has been procured by the local congressional delegation through budget earmarks, so capital spending plans will not be changed.

Director of Purchasing Tony Trona said the existing six hybrid buses in the authority fleet have been running with no failures and achieving about a 30 percent fuel savings over regular buses.

The buses are basically identical in form and function to other low-floor buses but they are powered by electricity generated by a smaller on-board engine and stored in batteries that are mounted on the roof.

The hybrids are quieter than conventional buses and emit only 10 percent of carbon monoxide, particulates and hydrocarbons.

In other business, the authority has recommended approving the next incremental agreement with the joint venture overseeing construction of the North Shore Connector. Tri-Gold, consisting of HDR Engineering, Jacobs Civil Inc. and Kwame Building Group Inc., is to be paid up to $10 million for work through December 2009, bringing the total cost for its service to $33 million since the light-rail project started.

Officials also reported work is progressing slightly ahead of schedule on the second tunnel being built for the 1.2-mile T extension. The tunnel-boring machine has advanced to the middle of the Allegheny River and could break through in a North Shore "receiving pit" sometime in January.

Joe Grata can be reached at jgrata@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1985.


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