ON THE ROAD: First Krystal Hybrid Bus Proves Its Metal

LCT Staff
Posted on October 21, 2009

LEWISTON, Maine — Since Northeast Trailways took delivery of its Krystal Hybrid Bus on Sept. 10, the demand for its has been non-stop, said president and owner Scott Riccio. “We have been on the road just about every day with customers.”

The 31-foot green mini-bus bought by Northeast Trailways, formerly Northeast Charter and Tour Co., seats up to 29 passengers and serves as the green flagship for its total fleet of 13 motorcoaches, three mini-buses, a van, and an SUV.

The Krystal Hybrid is manufactured by Krystal Enterprises Inc. in Brea, CA, and sold in the eastern U.S. by Capitol Coachworks of Capitol Heights, MD.

Top clients so far include athletic teams from Bates College in Lewiston and from Bowdin College in nearby Brunswick, Riccio said. Some of the teams have to travel into Massachusetts and Connecticut for games. The complimentary wi-fi Internet access onboard is a big hit among collegiate passengers, he added.

In addition, groups of seniors, military personnel, and fall color tourists all have reserved use of the bus, Riccio said. The foliage trippers took a nine-day tour into Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. “These groups need the luxury of better seating, a bathroom, and the adaptability of a big bus ride,” he said. Such big-bus amenities at smaller bus pricing saves clients money.

The diesel-electric hybrid engine and transmission combination gets about 11 mpg, compared to 7 mpg on the diesel-only 2000 model, 28-passenger Krystal bus that Northeast operates. On a September run for a military group, the Krystal Hybrid traveled more than 600 miles from Lewiston to a military facility outside Washington, D.C. non-stop without refueling.

“We’re getting decent mileage and it will get better as [the engine] wears in,” Riccio said. “We run synthetic oils in all vehicles. The viscosity helps with the performance of the motor.”

The hybrid engine, which meets 2007 EPA clean air standards, produces exhaust as pure as the air that goes into the engine, Riccio said. “We’ve gotten great support so far from Krystal, Capitol Coachworks, and Eaton transmission, If the product maintains dependability and remains cost-effective, we’ll get another one right away.”

About The Krystal Hybrid Bus

LCT Magazine will feature the bus in the upcoming October/November issue. Here is an excerpt about the bus:

The Krystal Hybrid bus has 31- 35- and 38-foot configurations that can carry 25-41 passengers.

Based on the 3200 chassis built by the International Truck and Engine Corp., the bus runs on a diesel electric hybrid engine which enables fuel savings of up to 60%. It has a 180,000 BTU roof air conditioning unit which can run with the engine off.

The air conditioner and electric features of the bus can run from 15-35 minutes with the engine-off mode engaged. The engine will then idle for four minutes to build the reserves for another 15-35 minutes of electrical power. This enables the bus to provide power and air conditioning without violating many state laws that limit idling to five minutes at a time.

The Krystal Hybrid also features an Eaton Ultrashift HEV transmission that captures energy released from slowing down the vehicle and using it to propel it when it moves forward.

By running the air conditioning on electric power, the bus avoids the heavy duty use and hassles of engine belts driving the A/C compressors.

Information: Krystal Enterprises website

Source: Martin Romjue, LCT Magazine

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