Idaho National Laboratory's 52 new J4500 coaches prove fuel efficient, eco-friendly, Wi-Fi ready
Bus Operations system celebrates 60 years of service
SCHAUMBURG, IL — June 8, 2012 — Experts in nuclear energy research, Idaho National Laboratory (INL) could prove the authority on MCI motor coaches as well. All together, INL Bus Operations operates 103 MCI coaches to transport employees to its testing labs and campus locations. Its newest MCI models, 52 J4500 coaches, delivered last month, are the first in its fleet to feature Wi-Fi connectivity and power outlets that allow passengers to use and charge digital devices. In addition, the coaches come equipped with fuel-efficient Cummins engines featuring EPA-mandated lower-emission, clean-diesel technology. INL runs its coach fleet using B20 biodiesel fuel made from 80 percent petroleum products and 20 percent oil from renewable plant sources.
"We're moving to a greener, cleaner fleet, and the results are impressive," said Carlo Melbihess, Director of Facilities and Site Services, who has oversight of INL's bus system. "In recent years, coaches have been replaced with newer models that offer more passenger seating than our previous models. We've lowered our fuel and maintenance costs by this move as well." INL strives for maximum employee use of the bus system; if every INL bus were filled to capacity, an estimated 100,000,000 lbs. of CO2 emissions would be prevented each year.
To further its commitment to reduce fuel usage and emissions, INL Bus Operations is working in tandem with the University of Idaho and 5D Robotics to test and develop a new method to reduce idling and change driver behavior with real-time feedback. Its new MCI J4500s are measuring up.
In 2010, the White House recognized INL with a Lean, Clean, Green Award (a GreenGov Presidential Award) for its work to modernize its fleet, improve fuel efficiency and for its use of bio-based alternative fuels to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. INL Bus Operations also holds an industry reputation for having one of the best maintenance programs anywhere.
The fleet logs more than two million miles annually, transporting nearly 2,750 passengers a day.
"An INL MCI coach is somewhere on an eastern Idaho road some 20 hours a day, seven days a week," said Scott Wold, Integrated Transportation Services director. "Our drivers are a well-trained, tough breed. Most have combated blizzards, black ice, and blowing dust and sand. These things don't happen every day, but our drivers take them in stride and handle them with precision."
INL Bus Operations staff totals 116 employees, of which 92 are drivers, 20 of them women. "Over the years, 70 of our drivers have reached a million-mile safe professional driving mark. This year bus driver Max Sessions became the latest INL driver to reach that milestone" said Wold. It is estimated the INL fleet has logged more than 100 million passenger trips and 176 million miles driven over the years.
INL, a national laboratory dedicated to supporting the U.S. Department of Energy's missions in nuclear and energy research, science, and national defense, was formed in 1949; its bus system started May 21, 1951, with 24 used school buses, known as Green Hornets, which transported workers across the Blackfoot route in the eastern Idaho desert. Today, the route is considerably shorter because of modern highways, and it is much more comfortable, thanks to the many amenities found on the MCI J4500.
The MCI J4500 has been the best-selling coach in the industry for the past eight consecutive years. Passengers appreciate its curb appeal, ergonomic entryway with grab rails, and spiral stairwell. A new seating configuration increases legroom by about an inch. A wide-ride suspension improves handling and offers a smooth ride. Safety features include Electronic Stability Control, a SmartWave® tire-pressure monitoring system and a fire suppression system.
"MCI offers the J4500 and other models to federal agencies through our GSA program, which continues to provide INL the opportunity to update its fleet," said Tom Wagner, MCI Public Sector executive director of sales. "INL Bus Operations demands a coach that's as reliable as it is comfortable. We're pleased to be an integral part of INL bus operations."
Motor Coach Industries (MCI), based in Schaumburg, Illinois, is the leading manufacturer of intercity coaches in the U.S. and Canada. Reliability driven, MCI builds expertly engineered, best-selling models for the tour, charter, line-haul, commuter and transit markets. MCI also offers 24-hour technical support, industry-leading technician training and the most extensive aftermarket parts and repair service.
Press contact: Patricia Plodzeen Public Relations, 847-283-0883; or Motor Coach Industries Marketing Department, 847-285-2035.
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