New Metrobus facility officially opens

Josh Pennell
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The news of the new Metrobus facility has been going around and around since 2007 when the city first announced a design for the building had begun. On Sunday, the buses pulled out of their new bays for the first time, and Tuesday a ceremonial ribbon-cutting marked the official opening of the Metrobus Transit Facility at 25 Messenger Dr.

After 55 years on Freshwater Road, Metrobus finally moved to a new home this week. The official opening of its new $34.2-million facility on Messenger Drive in the Kenmount Park business district of St. John’s took place  Wednesday. Taking 39 months to build, the facility can accommodate up to 70 buses and is comprised of new offices, operations areas, a state-of-the-art garage, bus washing facilities and maintenance bays. Taking part in the ribbon-cutting ceremony were (from left) Coun. Tom Hann, chair of the St. John’s Transportation Commission (SJTC), St. John’s Mayor Dennis O’Keefe, Metrobus general manager Judy Powell and Metrobus driver Paul Churchill, union president, Amalgamated Transit Workers Union (ATU), Local 1462.

“My cup is full,” Mayor Dennis O’Keefe joked with an empty coffee cup in his hand prior to the ribbon-cutting. “Not of coffee, but it certainly is full after 52 years ago when the city was a lot different than it is today and the old facility was built on Freshwater Road.”

The building has an operations section, staff and administration area and a heated garage that can hold 70 Metrobus vehicles.

“Which we’ll need to serve that greater urban area I keep referring to,” O’Keefe quipped.

The mayor spoke several times about a bigger urban centre of the future that the new facility would service, referring to amalgamation of area municipalities, which he vocally favours.

The facility is 115,000 square feet and cost $34 million, of which

$26 million came from the federal government while the other $8 million came from the city.

Coun. Tom Hann highlighted a number of the design features that make the building Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified.

Sustainable design features and energy-conscious technology were a main goal of the design, Hann said.

“Here’s an interesting thing. You are standing on a cistern.”

Hann was referring to the fact that rainwater from the roof is collected in an underwater cistern that can hold 200,000 litres of water. That water will be used to wash the buses. Four million litres will be collected annually, resulting in a 55 per cent reduction in the facility’s use of the municipal water supply, according to Hann.

The facility also has a geothermal mechanical system. More than 105,000 feet of hot water piping travel underneath the floors helping to heat the facility.

It’s not just the facility that’s had more than a minor face lift. The transit system is being worked on, as well. Hann said Metrobus is increasing the number of fuel-efficient buses and adding routes.

Organizations: Environmental Design

Geographic location: Freshwater Road

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