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Red, blue ... and new to the streets


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POSTED: Thursday, April 09, 2009

If you happen to be taking TheBus along Route 2 (Kalihi-Waikiki) today, don't be alarmed by the patriotic-looking bus.

;[Preview]  Hanneman Unveils New City Bus
 

It's a composite bus that is made of resin and fibers, explained as a kind of cross between surf board and boat building technology.

Watch  ]

 

The red, white and blue transport emblazoned with the familiar “;TheBus”; logo is a prototype being tested by the city.

Officials say the prototype—known as the Compo bus—is five feet longer than standard 40-foot buses used on Oahu and can accommodate up to 47 seats, about 10 more than the regular models.

It's made of a composite, carbon-fiber material similar to the body of a Corvette, which is lighter than steel but does not rust, adding two to three years to the life of the vehicle. The composite also makes the Compo bus about 1,000 pounds lighter than standard 40-foot buses.

The Compo bus could be used on routes where 40-foot buses are overcrowded at peak hours, but longer 60-foot extended buses are emptier during off-peak times, officials said.

City officials are testing the Compo bus on various routes starting today with the Kalihi-Waikiki line. It will be used on other lines over the 30-day testing period, including Route 1 (Kalihi-Hawaii Kai), Route 40 (Honolulu-Makaha) and Route 52 (Circle Isle).

The goal is to determine if the buses are more efficient by carrying more passengers, achieving better gas mileage and lessening the load on Oahu's roadways.

“;We're going to test it out,”; said Roger Morton, general manager of Oahu Transit Services, the agency that operates TheBus. “;We haven't made a commitment to buy any.”;

Morton estimated that if proven effective, the Compo buses could replace up to 120 of the fleet's 40-foot models.

The Compo bus, with a diesel engine and outfitted for Oahu use, costs about $500,000, about $100,000 more than a standard 40-foot bus. It also can be outfitted with a hybrid or compressed natural gas fuel system at a higher cost.

Oahu Transit Services plans to hand out passenger surveys and also solicit feedback from drivers and managers.

“;Obviously, this is a demonstration project, but we're very sanguine about the prospect that this bus could, in fact, be a part of our bus fleet,”; said Mayor Mufi Hannemann.

The Compo bus is produced by North American Bus Industries Inc., in Anniston, Ala., and is being provided to the city free of charge during the 30-day test period.

Bill Coryell, vice president of west region sales for the bus manufacturer, said the Compo bus has been in use in Los Angeles and parts of Arizona, including Phoenix and Tempe.

“;It's a young product. It's relatively new,”; Coryell said. “;I think it's a very elegant bus that's ideally suited to many operations in the United States, including those here in the islands.”;