Electric Vehicle Transit Institute Web Article

Energy-efficient hybrid-electric fleet helps revitalize downtown Denver

August 29, 2001

Can a fleet of 36 hybrid-electric buses help revive a city’s dying downtown area? That’s exactly what happened recently in Denver, Colorado.

Urban Denver was showing signs of decay. After the petroleum companies moved out in the late 1970s, they left over 40 percent of the inner city vacant.

Today, though, a bustling shuttle route operates in the Denver Mall, a mile-long section of 16th Street that is flourishing with stores and boutiques. The shuttle fleet has helped to transform the once depressed area into the city’s top tourist attraction. The route through the mall, which carries 55,000 passengers daily, connects to major light rail lines and bus terminals. Operated by the Denver Regional Transportation District (RTD), the shuttle route transports more than a million passengers each month.

“Denver’s citizens were pleased to get rid of the black exhaust clouds from traditional diesel-engine buses,” comments John Davis of the Denver transit system. In fact, they gave the electric fleet a Downtown Denver Award for improving passenger ease and convenience with minimal pollution.

The city’s new EcoMark buses, which are manufactured by TransTeq, reduce congestion, improve fuel economy and lower emissions. Each bus carries 116 passengers with only a 70 HP engine (the same horsepower that powers a two- passenger Honda Insight and a five-passenger Toyota Prius).

Each bus is fueled by clean, compressed natural gas. For additional fuel savings, the 45-foot buses use energy captured during braking to charge batteries. Each hybrid-electric bus emits less pollution than a single car.

Denver’s free mall shuttle is popular with commuters and tourists alike.

“The Denver story is important for two reasons,” notes John Powell of the Electric Transit Vehicle Institute. “It proves that public transit has economic value for a community, and it demonstrates the value of hybrid-electric bus technology.”

For more information on electric and hybrid-electric vehicles, please visit the Electric Vehicle Transit Institute’s website at http://www.etvi.org/