Pricey hybrid buses not quite up to speed
Published: Monday, January 27, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 27, 2003 at 12:04 a.m.
What do you get when you cross a high price tag with a bus that doesn't work?
At least that's Regional Transit System director Jeff Logan's take on the city's ongoing experiment with gas/electric hybrid buses. RTS bought two of the buses last year, at the urging of city commissioners who hoped 30-mile-per-gallon buses could usher in a new era of super-fuel-efficient bus service.
The buses cost $250,000 each - about the same as normal buses - but are smaller and carry half as many passengers.
An engine fire left one of the buses stranded on Main Street a few months ago, and neither bus has run a regular route since.
Logan said one of the buses is working now, but it's used only for special occasions.
"They break when they're just sitting in the yard," he said.
Two months ago, Commissioner Tony Domenech snapped at Mayor Tom Bussing for talking out of turn and asked him to step "out back" behind City Hall to discuss meeting rules.
But last Tuesday, Domenech had nothing but accolades for Bussing's skills as a number cruncher. He praised the mayor - a former computing consultant who has been criticized for making long-winded speeches - after Bussing gave a lengthy breakdown on some tricky budget issues.
And in other meetings last week, Domenech was seen giving Bussing a chummy slap on the shoulder during light moments in discussion.
"He has a magnificent brain," Domenech said of his new-found respect for Bussing.
An article about the proposed Main Street roundabout in last week's Gainesville Sun generated a phone call from former Ocala resident Robert Getz, who is retired and living in Costa Rica. Getz says he often encounters roundabouts while driving around San Jose - and grits his teeth every time he enters one.
"They're incredibly dangerous," he said. "Nobody yields to anybody. Nobody knows who really has the right of way."
Getz acknowledges that Costa Rican driving habits may have something to do with the roundabout problem.
"They do drive like maniacs here," he said. "But the drivers in Gainesville may not be much better."
Janine Young Sikes can be reached at (352) 337-0327 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Ashley Rowland can be reached at (352) 374- 5095 or rowlana@ gvillesun.com.
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