Transit officials from around the country flocked to Las Vegas recently. They were here on official business — no gambling or hotel shows for them. They came to evaluate an official test run of a zinc-powered bus. Loaded with executives, the flashy looking bus cruised up and down the Strip, maneuvering quietly through the stop-and-go traffic.
As Im about as mechanical as a can opener, I relied on an explanation by a company official who informed me the bus runs on zinc-powered batteries. He claimed the zinc-air battery is superior to the more common lead-acid battery because it stores energy in a denser form. This means zinc-powered buses can complete an entire shift before needing to have the batteries replaced.
The good news is that it only takes five minutes to replace the batteries. The bad news is getting the batteries recharged is tricky and bus system operators dont want to take on the expense involved in operating a plant to recharge the batteries. The expense would only be feasible if the plant could serve 500 to 800 buses. Currently the Citizens Area Transit operates a mere 295 buses and there is no millionaire sitting around ready to place recharging plants in every city. The hope is that the government will help and, indeed, the government has shown some interest in the project.
Gasoline prices hit a three-year low in Nevada during the last two months. One service station in Las Vegas, selling gasoline for 99.9 cents a gallon, prompted a lot of nostalgia as customers reminisced about bygone years when gasoline was cheap. One fellow got so carried away that he regaled other customers with tales of the days when he was a "cruising" high schooler and paid 25 cents a gallon.
The new year has brought a rise in smog-check fees in Nevada. Not only that, the Department of Motor Vehicles has a new "smart machine" to crack down on smog cheaters. Smog cheaters are crafty people who do things like running a "clean" car through the checking process, then typing in the make and model of the "dirty" car they drive. If using the smart machine isnt crafty enough, inspectors are running about conducting once a month surprise checks on smog test shops. This maneuver reminds me of the restaurant checks displayed once a week in the newspaper. It is scary to read how many disgusting practices are being committed in the restaurant you just happened to have dined in last week.
While we are on the subject of smog, those ugly, smelly, noisy garbage trucks roaring through the neighborhoods in Las Vegas are going to be replaced by cleaner burning vehicles. Happily, Republic Services of Nevada (the garbage company, to you), has landed $25 million in tax-exempt bond money, enabling them to replace 21 trash trucks with new vehicles.
It was "hurry up and wait" for scores of truckers planning to fill up at the Las Vegas terminal operated by Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP on the pipeline that transports gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel from California to southern Nevada. The snafu, caused by computer software, left shortages at many local truck stops and service stations for a frustrating 36 hours.
Recently, the Citizens Area Transits first natural-gas powered buses made their debut in Las Vegas. The seven buses took to the streets and have been accepted and applauded by drivers and passengers alike. The buses not only look good but they have significantly improved air quality, cost less to run, and it is expected that maintenance costs will be much less. Transportation officials will be evaluating the performance of the seven buses as they traverse stop-and-go traffic in the valleys intense heat this summer.
The Las Vegas Valley has gone three consecutive years without violating the federal air quality standard for carbon monoxide. Thats the good news. The bad news is the County is still struggling to curb dust pollution. Christine Robinson, director of the Clark County air Quality Management Department, says it doesnt look like the valley will demonstrate attainment until 2006.
The dates for the Western Petroleum Marketers Association post-convention trip have been revised forward one day. The trip will now run from Tuesday, May 14 to Friday, May 24, 2002. Join your friends from the petroleum business on a Yangtze River cruise, climb the Great Wall of China, explore the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace, and enter the magnificent Ming Tombs in Beijing. An optional five day/four night extension trip to exotic Tibet is also available. For information on the trip, call Destinations Inc. at (801) 446-5000.
Originally published in the February 2002 issue of the O&A News.
Copyright 2002 by KAL Publications Inc.
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