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Hybrid buses led by federal incentives?

Mass-transit systems across the US are ordering more diesel-electric hybrid buses, despite an extra cost of more than $100,000 per bus, USA Today (1/22, Schrader) reports. So far, known orders include New York City for 850 buses; Washington, D.C., for 950; Philadelphia for 480, and Minneapolis/St. Paul for 300.

Experts say that hybrids "won't necessarily recoup the extra costs" with better mileage, but they are still "becoming the buses of choice for public transit systems" as they cause less damage to the environment, which may mean less pollution or even less noise.

The catching line for me, though, is that "Communities can get federal money to pay up to 90% of a hybrid bus's price, compared with up to 80% for conventional buses," according to the report. If this incentive does exist, the actual "extra costs" for a community to choose a hybrid bus is much lower (if not negative) and thus a lot more easier to be "recouped," especially when we factor in the higher-and-higher gas price and the possibility of a federal gas tax increase.

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