The Gazette covers City Hall, now a flood-damaged icon on May's Island in the Cedar River

Boondoggle Cedar Rapids buses sold for salvage may have new life as buses yet

In City Hall on April 23, 2008 at 5:52 pm

Charles Bacon, the owner of C.J. Bacon & Sons Salvage in Hopkinton, isn’t as revved up as a month ago about ripping apart nine, little-used, experimental electric buses he purchased in an online auction from the city of Cedar Rapids.

Bacon bought all nine buses – four electric and five electric hybrids – that had sat in a city of Cedar Rapids storage lot, some a couple years, some several years, waiting for the federal government to allow the city to get rid of them.

The buses are a testament to a $10-million experiment, which was funded in large part by the federal government and which turned into nothing less than a boondoggle.

The buses never worked very well. None of the nine every logged many miles.

On Wednesday, Bacon said the price of gasoline these days has had him thinking that he can make more money selling some or all of the nine buses for use as buses rather than breaking them apart for salvage. A month ago, he figured he could make a couple thousand dollars of profit on each bus via the salvage route.

“I’ve got some interest in them,” Bacon explained.

He pointed to one fellow with operations in California and southern Missouri who has been “deviling me” to purchase the four all-electric buses among the nine.

Sufficiently strong has the interest been that Bacon now doubts he will bust up any of the buses just for salvage value.

Suddenly, he said he finds himself in a “speculative situation,” where he is willing to sit back and wait to see what the buses may yet bring.

“I don’t get too excited,” Bacon said. “The buses are mine. I’ve paid for them.”

He said he has a salvage yard full of things to tear apart without needing to hurry and salvage the buses.



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