On May 18th, Stark Area Regional Transit Authority celebrated the opening of their new filling facility and a CNG vehicle display at their Gateway Facility, Canton, including new clean-fuel buses. The event featured Senator Sherrod Brown and Canton Mayor William J. Healy II, among dozens of guests. The station resulted from a joint development agreement with Clean Energy involving an investment of USD 1.6 million in building the site. Construction took place from October until April.
Over the next two years, SARTA will be switching 50% of their current fleet of buses to CNG starting with the first 6 CNG fixed route buses in May 2012. This change will be cleaner and greener by reducing over 80% of emissions and a more affordable, domestic option that will save SARTA up to 40% a year on fueling costs while taking advantage of local fueling sources.
By the end of August, the bus operator expects that natural gas will power 23 of its 85 buses. By the end of 2013, it plans to have eight 40-foot buses, 10 35-foot buses and 32 smaller paratransit buses that will be CNG-driven vehicles.
In addition to new buses, SARTA has installed two fueling dispensers at their Gateway Facility. One will be used for SARTA buses and the other is for the general public. This will be the first public fueling station in Ohio outside of the Columbus area. The station will be open to the public 24/7 and can be utilized by private businesses, public partners as well as private individuals.
The money to build the brand new facility came from about USD 500,000 in federal stimulus money through the non-profit group Clean Fuels Ohio, other federal grants and $900,000 in local funds, which nearly all comes from SARTA’s quarter-percent sales tax, according to CantonRep.com.
Sources: SARTA website and media reports.