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GM strikes deal to sell hybrid buses in Seattle

From freep| May 17,2007

General Motors Corp. and bus-maker New Flyer Industries will sell as many as 500 hybrid buses to the Seattle area’s transit system over the next five years, the companies announced today.

King County Metro Transit recently approved a sales tax increase to allow it to increase the number of hybrid buses in its transit system by 20%. Over five years, the contract could be worth as much as $500 million. The county, which is home to Seattle, already has 200 GM-New Flyer hybrid buses in its transit system fleet.

Seattle’s fleet of hybrid buses is already the largest in the United States, King County Executive Ron Sims said Wednesday during a news conference. The county is committed to being a model for the nation on reducing greenhouse gases, Sims said.

“It’s innovative public-private partnerships such as this that put King County in a leadership position to combat global warming,” Sims said. “The size of this contract demonstrates our commitment to transit and the resulting benefits to our residents for air quality and traffic congestion.”

The announcement comes amid growing concern about the negative effects of greenhouse gases — including those emitted by vehicles — on the global climate.

The GM-New Flyer hybrid buses get significantly better fuel economy than traditional buses: an average of 4 miles to the gallon instead of 3 miles per gallon.

Sims added that the county’s hybrid buses are more reliable than the traditional buses in the county transit system.

GM and New Flyer expect to deliver 22 buses to the county next spring with another 100 scheduled for delivery in 2009. Those buses would be additions to the transit system’s fleet. Subsequent orders would replace existing buses, Sims said.

GM said it has delivered 720 hybrid buses to 56 cities in the U.S. and Canada. In the hybrid buses, a diesel engine powers a battery that sends power to electric motors that turn the wheels. The same hybrid system used in the buses will be available in the Chevy Tahoe and GMC Yukon later this year.

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