City gushing as new Metrobus depot nears completion

Metrobus hopes that public transit in St. John's will soon be boosted into the modern era when the new 'green' depot opens.

Building set to open later this month

The new Metrobus depot on Messenger Drive in St. John's. (CBC)

Metrobus hopes public transit in St. John's will get a boost into the modern era when its new "green" depot opens later this month.

Metrobus is moving from its old location on Freshwater Road, to its new state-of-the-art facility off Kelsey Drive. And senior staff expect new technology used there will carry them into the future.

Judy Powell, general manager of Metrobus, says the new depot will help the company utilize more 'green' technologies and use fewer resources. (CBC)

General manager Judy Powell said new technology in the building will align with the company's goal of being as green as possible.

"It features a number of sustainable designs and energy efficient technologies. For instance, there's a rain harvesting system. We have a cistern under the building that will hold about 200,000 litres of water, estimated to collect about four million litres per year, which is a 55 per cent reduction in our use per units for water," Powell said.

She said the new building will be far more efficient to run than the old one.

Powell said a new bus wash system, which will use the collected rain water, will accommodate the bike racks on buses, which will tie into the city's boost for fewer vehicles on the road.

She said the new site on Messenger Drive also allows for future development.

"There's still a fair bit of room for growth and the building can certainly be expanded if we do exceed that in the future," Powell said. "Our current building is about 55 years old, so when we designed this building we were looking at at least another 50 years."

Cutting down on emissions

Coun. Tom Hann said the decision to build the new $34-million facility was one of the city's smartest moves.

City Coun. Tom Hann says the new Metrobus depot was one of the city's wisest decisions. (CBC)

"It's probably one of the wisest investments the City of St. John's has made. We were able to access $26 million from a federal green fund to build this, and the city's investment is $8 million, and we have a brand new energy-efficient building that's going to last for another 50 or 60 years," Hann said.

"Hopefully it will improve service down the road. We're replacing the fleet, so all of it is going to be modernized and I think staff are going to be really impressed."

Hann said the federal money that helped pay for the construction of the new building would not have been available if they decided to renovate the old location. He added that the total cost of a renovation would have exceeded the bill for a new building.

Hann admits construction of the facility may be a bit behind schedule, but adds it's better to ensure everything is top-notch before making the big move.

"Yes, we are behind schedule. But right now the inspectors are shaking down the building and making sure everything is operational and it was worth waiting for," he said. "In a few weeks we'll be able to transition the staff and get them in here and we'll be operating full tilt from there."

Metrobus hopes the upgrades and efficiencies will mean more riders, and fewer cars on city roads.

Twenty-six new buses will also replace older ones by 2015.