Buses are one way to go to your local ski hill in a more eco-friendly fashion than driving individual cars. But the Greasebus to Mt. Hood Meadows blows other buses off the charts with its reduction in carbon emissions.
The Greasebus, the brainchild of snowboarder Mike Parziale, runs from Portland to Mt. Hood Meadows six days per week. But where other buses consume diesel, the Greasebus runs on waste vegetable oil collected from Portland restaurants. Sure, the exhaust might smell like French fries, but it burns cleaner than diesel fuels.
"The diesel motor was invented to run on vegetable oil," Parziale told OnTheSnow. "Over the years, it got phased out and replaced with fossil fuel."
Parziale partners with several restaurants in the Portland area that dump their waste vegetable oil into 55-gallon drums. He picks up the oil, putting it into his buses modified to convert the oil through three steps-filtering, heating, and doing a water separation-before it enters the motor.
Skiers and snowboarders can catch the Greasebus to Mt. Hood Meadows, Tuesdays through Sundays and holidays. A minimum of 10 riders is necessary to make the trip efficient. "Ridership has been awesome," said Parziale. "The bus has been totally full every day that we ran it up until early January."
Round trip rides from Portland to Mt. Hood Meadows cost $10 weekdays and $15 weekends. The actual cost of Greasebus trips are offset by sponsors, such as Nike Snowboarding, Clif Bar, and Skullcandy.
The riders are always wowed by 20-passenger bus. "They expect a ramshackle school bus, but the bus has got a flat screen TV and headphones," said Parziale, adding that riders get perks such a copy of Snowboarder Magazine and Clif Bars. "We also build up the community feel on the bus, and do a giveaway like gloves or something from our sponsors on the bus every day."
Parziale is looking into adding a bus from Hood River to Mt. Hood Meadows. He also hopes to add a Greasebus run from Seattle to Stevens Pass Ski Area in February.
The bus leaves the Greasebus office in Portland at 8 a.m. and returns at 6 p.m. Reservations are only available online.