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April 27, 1999|Megan Garvey, (714) 966-7715

A new kind of bus is about to hit Orange County streets. The hybrid bus, one of two prototypes being tested by the Orange County Transportation Authority, runs on electric batteries powered by a small diesel engine. The result is a clean-running machine that looks no different from any other on the road.

Transit officials say they will be interested to see how the bus--the first off the manufacturer's assembly line--performs when it goes into service early next month. The prototype is one of several means county transit officials are looking at to reduce bus emissions. At a cost of $550,000 each, the hybrid bus is about $200,000 more than the standard diesel model.

Also scheduled to arrive early next year are 60 clean-fuel buses, which cost $350,000 each and will be powered by liquefied natural gas. The transit agency will begin construction on a new fuel center later this year to service the buses.

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