Denali National Park Goes Greener With New Hybrid Commercial Bus

Visitors to Alaska's Denali National Park and Preserve, one of the largest protected intact ecosystems in the world, will now have the opportunity to explore the park with the aid of an environmentally friendly vehicle; a fuel-efficient and emissions-reducing hybrid bus. IC Bus, North America's largest school bus and commercial bus manufacturer, delivered the Park's first hybrid bus on July 17.

Assigned for use as part of the park's shuttle service which extends 145 km into the wilderness, the hybrid bus will transport visitors along a 70 km route through August 30, during the Park's peak season, enhancing visitors' experience. A quieter engine will improve wildlife viewing as visitors see and hear nature in a way the other buses do not allow.

"Can you imagine the thrill of moving slowly and silently past a bear nursing its cub or wolf hunting along the road?" asked Elwood Lynn, assistant superintendent of operations for Denali.

In addition to a quieter ride, the new bus will provide better performance on the steep grades of the park road as Denali is also known for its mountain viewing. Most importantly, the CE Series Hybrid delivers environmental benefits such as: a reduction in particulate matter and NOx emissions. an improvement in fuel economy, a reduction in CO2. Hybrid drive power also provides an electronic boost for hills or when rapid acceleration is needed, recharges the battery and improves brake life.

Denali officials and employees are very excited about the new hybrid as they are committed to making Park operations more sustainable and educating visitors about eco-friendly changes they can make in their own lives.

"This bus will reduce our impact on the environment while improving guests' experience," explained Mr. Lynn.

When Doyon/ARAMARK, the concessioner responsible for the Park's transportation service, won the Denali contract in 2003, the Park challenged them to explore new bus technology, including hybrid. In turn, Doyon/ARAMARK approached Cascadia International, the IC Bus dealership in Anchorage.

Cascadia is loaning the hybrid bus to Doyon/ARAMARK to test at the Park.

"This bus is for demo and evaluation purposes. The National Park Service is looking at this technology and is very interested in the feasibility and economic viability of future fleet replacements. The price of diesel fuel in the Denali area tops $5.00/gallon so fuel economy is a genuine consideration with this project along with reducing environmental impact," said Matt Gerber, statewide sales executive of Cascadia International, LLC.

Doyon/ARAMARK currently has 110 buses in its Denali National Park and Preserve fleet which drive an average of 1,9 million km per year. As more of the diesel-engine buses are replaced by hybrids, the reduced impact on the environment and fuel savings become that much greater.

"Improving fuel efficiency and reducing emissions will help the Park and the environment," said John McKinney, vice president and general manager of IC Bus. "IC Bus is committed to environmental leadership with its hybrid commercial bus."

The hybrid system, developed by Enova Systems, couples a diesel engine with an 80-kW powertrain, incorporating a transmission, batteries and an electric motor. The system recovers kinetic energy during regenerative braking, charging the batteries while the bus is slowing down. This provides additional power for acceleration, making the hybrid buses ideal because of the frequent starting and stopping of the bus.

IC Bus, LLC of Warrenville, Illinois, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Navistar International Corporation. The largest manufacturer of school buses in the USA, IC Bus is a leader in passenger protection, chassis design, engines and ergonomics. The company is also a producer of school buses. All IC Bus buses are sold, serviced and supported through a renowned dealer network that offers an integrated customer program encompassing parts, training and service.

Source: IC Bus

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