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C-Tran is experimenting with hybrid buses in Vancouver.

The agency hopes the buses aren't just an environment saver but also a money saver.

C-Tran is using federal money to help pay for 12 new hybrid buses.

The modern-looking hybrid buses sport a new logo and a new color scheme.

They cost a third more than regular diesel buses and get only about a mile-and-a-half advantage per gallon.

C-Tran is hoping the hybrid buses will last longer than usual because engine wear is so comparatively light.

"You're doing repairs on the engine a lot less than we would be doing on our diesel buses and the brakes are also used less," said Scott Patterson, C-Tran spokesman.

The Cascade Policy Institute is a conservative think tank in Portland and has studied the C-Tran hybrid purchase and concluded it will lose money.

That conclusion is based on a national standard, 12-month lifespan for buses and the assumption batteries need replacing every six years at a cost of $34,000 dollars each.

"Sometimes the facts are kind of hidden by this green veil," said Todd Wynn, CPI analyst.

C-Tran says there is still great potential the hybrid experiment could prove to be financially advantageous as well as environmentally responsible.

A lot depends on how the price of diesel behaves in years to come, and whether the hybrid buses really do last longer than regular buses.

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