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Mountain News:

Durango goes ‘real’ too



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ASPEN, Colo. — Two years ago Aspen wanted to encourage more people to use cars that use both electricity and gas, which get improved mileage and emit fewer pollutants. As such, the town gave $100 to Aspen residents who owned hybrids, and it also gave them carte blanche to park in zones otherwise restricted to homeowners and carpoolers.

But with some 60 hybrids now in Aspen, Mayor Helen Klanderud believes no incentives are needed. The Aspen Times says that Klanderud also argues that the program runs counter to the city’s goal of encouraging use of mass transit. Moreover, if the only concern is emissions, other vehicles than just hybrids meet the city’s Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle standard. As well, commuters who carpool are annoyed that single-occupant hybrids edge them out for coveted free parking spaces.

Vail investing in hybrids

VAIL, Colo. — Vail town officials plan to get a hybrid bus next year, the first step in converting a third of its fleet to hybrids in the next decade.

The hybrid technology, which uses both electricity and diesel, almost doubles the cost of the buses, from $300,000 to $500,000 each. However, using the hybrid technology is expected to save 19,000 gallons of diesel fuel per bus per year and the buses are ideal for the frequent stops and starts of the in-town shuttle. As well, the buses are quieter and reduce emissions by 90 per cent.

"As technology comes along, everyone wants to take the high road," transportation boss Mike Rose explained. The Vail Daily added that the town already has two Toyota Prius hybrid cars and plans to buy a hybrid SUV next year.

Bus drivers hard to find

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. — The slack in the economy is clearly gone. Bus departments are again reporting they can’t find drivers. In Steamboat Springs, with training of drivers for winter routes soon to begin, city transportation director George Krawzoff reported getting only five applications for 20 positions. This fact, he said, demonstrates why dedicated affordable housing is needed.

This comes at a time when there is more interest than ever in using mass transit, owing to the increased price of gasoline. Ridership in September was up 7 per cent compared to last year, the Steamboat Pilot reports.

Housing pinch hits government

HAILEY, Idaho — As the towns of Ketchum and Sun Valley have done previously, Blaine County is talking about starting an affordable housing program for county employees. The sheriff, Walt Fleming, told county commissioners he’s down six employees, but applicants have backed out when learning the cost of local housing.