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Westport Green Lights Hybrid School Bus Purchase

WESTPORT, Conn. – Beginning this fall, Westport will become a more environmentally friendly town as it rolls out a hybrid diesel/electric school bus. On Tuesday night, the town’s legislative body voted to purchase a hybrid bus through a grant from the state Department of Transportation.

Last year, the Westport school district was approved to receive a $63,584 grant from the DOT through the 2011 Connecticut Clean Fuel Program to “experiment” with an electric/ultra-low sulfur diesel hybrid school bus, Assistant Superintendent of Business Nancy Harris told the Representative Town Meeting on Tuesday night.

“This particular hybrid generates power by using the brakes,” Harris said. “Every time the bus hits the brakes — and if you’ve ever been behind a bus, you know that happens a lot — that generates power.”

Under the grant, Westport must fund the purchase of the $145,931 bus upfront. The town will receive the grant money once the bus is purchased and received, Harris said. This grant covers the difference between the cost of a traditional school bus and a hybrid, Harris said.

The remaining $82,347 the town spends on the bus will be reimbursed over two years through a lease with Dattco, the district’s transportation provider. The town, Harris said, will lease the bus to Dattco for $41,173.50 a year. Dattco has also agreed to pay all maintenance and insurance costs on the bus.

At the end of the two-year lease, the town will transfer the bus title to Dattco for $1, Harris added. This full-size bus will be used in place of one traditional bus.

“I think this is the kind of thing we should be doing,” said Velma Heller, a representative of District 9. “In terms of the future, this is the way we should be thinking about energy and fuel costs.”

The Representative Town Meeting also unanimously approved a partial roof recoating project at Coleytown Middle School. The roofs over the gym, library and art wings, now 17 years old, will be recoated this summer.

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