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franklin county times

Prototype bus makes pit stop in Meridian

By Staff
MULTI-PURPOSE n Former Federal Railroad Administrator Gil Carmichael talks to a crowd in front of the new "Intermodal Expeditor" bus. The bus, manufactured by Neoplan USA, combines passenger service with an ability to carry container freight cargo. Photo by Ben Alexander/The Meridian Star
By Ben Alexander/The Meridian Star
Feb. 28, 2001
Local officials turned out at Union Station Tuesday to take a look at a new bus that designers say could revolutionize transportation.
The bus is called the Intermodal Expeditor. Manufactured by Neoplan USA Corporation, it can carry both passengers and freight containers.
The bus is capable of carrying a standard 20-foot intermodal container or several smaller containers in addition to 29 passengers.
Carmichael said the design of the bus will allow shipping companies such as UPS or the Postal Service to move packages faster into rural areas by unloading freight from either trains or airplanes onto the bus.
James Gaspard II, vice president of Neoplan, said he hopes the multi-use bus will give industry an economic boost by carrying express freight packages.
Gaspard and other Neoplan executives see a number of markets the new bus could conquer including marketing to NASCAR so that teams and cars could travel in the same vehicle.
Mayor John Robert Smith, who also examined the bus, said it could help bridge the gap between transportation modes making intermodal hubs such as Union Station essential.
Carmichael said he too can see the need for an intermodal park due to the increase in intermodal transportation, such as the bus. Carmichael said some companies are already developing plans to better utilize new inventions, adding that Amtrak officials have already begun retooling the company's revenue base.
Mayor Smith said Neoplan already has contracts pending before Amtrak and that the company could implement a plan to purchase some of the buses.
Ben Alexander is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at balexander@themeridianstar.com.

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