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The Berkshires

Buses fighting frigid temps with new heaters

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Albany/HV: Buses fighting frigid temps with new heaters
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This week's been brutal if you've had to be out and about, with the temperatures often in the single digits. A concern for school districts is keeping their kids warm while on the bus. Our Megan Cruz checked in with one of the districts, and it turns out they have a new weapon in their battle against the cold.

COLONIE, N.Y. -- "When it's really cold, it takes so long to run these buses," said Steve Garry. He's a bus driver for the South Colonie Central School District. "And you have to run them so long before you start getting any heat to try to defrost the windows, let alone keep the bus warm back there for the kids."

Garry says he hates picking up kids with a cold bus, so he'd always come to work early to warm it up.

"Take the bus down the Northway," he said. "That would help work the bus, run it, and get the temperature up."

But he says he's done doing overtime because this is what happens now when he turns on his bus.

"This is nice. Toasty right now," he said, as he watched the temperature gauge shoot up to 130 degrees.

Now Garry can sleep in, because new to his bus this year is this heater.

"Just like a hot water tank in your house," explains Fred Dittmer. He's the fleet supervisor for the district. He says the heater turns on automatically an hour before the drivers get in.

"So that once they start it up, they have heat," said Dittmer. "Be around 40-50 degrees before they even roll off the lot."

Dittmer says half of their 82-bus fleet was upgraded this year with the new heaters. It was at zero cost to the district thanks to a NYSERDA grant.

They not only save the district on overtime - also, fuel costs.

"To run that heater for an hour is probably less than a gallon of fuel, whereas if we had to run the engine, we're probably talking over maybe two gallons of fuel," he said.

Garry's just glad his kids are comfortable.

"Definitely a big difference," he said.

"I feel fine," said bus rider Keon Fink. "Not cold at all."

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