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Westport Seeks to Roll Out Hybrid School Bus

WESTPORT, Conn. – Your child may be taking a more environmentally friendly ride to and from school next year if the Westport Board of Education gets approval from the town to go forward with the purchase of a hybrid bus.

The district recently got approval for a $63,584 grant from the state Department of Transportation to purchase a combination low-sulfur diesel fuel/electric school bus through the 2011 Connecticut Clean Fuel program, Assistant Superintendent for Business Nancy Harris told the Board of Education on Monday night.

"It's my understanding that what the state is trying to do — especially in Fairfield County where air quality is the worst in the state — is push as many different ways of cutting down any kind of emissions," Harris said.

Although Westport would have to provide funding up front for the $145,931 bus, Harris said, in the end it would be zero total cost to the town.

Once Westport pays the full cost of the bus, it would be awarded the grant, Harris said. The town will then be reimbursed the remaining $82,347 through a two-year lease agreement with Dattco, the district's school bus provider. Dattco would lease the bus from the town for $41,173.50 a year and has agreed to pay all maintenance and insurance costs, Harris said.

After the two-year lease, the title to the bus would be transferred to Dattco for $1, Harris added.

Harris said she hopes to purchase the hybrid bus in February for delivery and use in the 2012-13 school year. The hybrid, she said, would be full-size and used in place of one standard bus.

"As you're all aware, the cost of fuel has dramatically changed from last year to this year," Harris said. "The opportunity to use a hybrid bus will give us some sense of fuel savings."

The board unanimously gave Harris approval to move forward. Next, she will prepare a funding request to be approved by the Board of Finance. The Board of Selectmen and Representative Town Meeting, the town's legislative body, will also need to approve the funding.

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