It's a year and half behind schedule, but the new Metrobus depot has finally opened on Messenger Drive in St. John's.
Officials and dignitaries gathered on Wednesday for the facility's ribbon-cutting. Metrobus management said the $34-million building is on budget.
Mayor Dennis O'Keefe said it was a great day for the city.
"We've come a long way. We now have a facility, a $34-million facility, thanks to the financial co-operation of the federal government and the City of St. John's. It's on the cutting edge of technology," said O'Keefe.
The new building is highly-efficient and has a low environmental impact.
Leading-edge technology has been used inside to make it a healthier, safer and more work-friendly environment for employees like mechanic Walter Barrington.
"The exhaust system, the air exchange system, the ramping system — it's much more convenient to run a bus in. It's all remote-controlled," said Barrington.
The new depot marks a big step in a makeover aimed at transforming Metrobus over the next few years, including a fleet of new energy-efficient buses. Buses capable of transporting riders in wheelchairs is also in the works.
Judy Powell is the general manager of Metrobus.
"The biggest improvements in this facility, really, is in our maintenance and storage areas. We've certainly outgrown our old facility," said Powell.
"Efficient as we can be here means more of our budget can go into service on the street as well. So, that's always important, because the majority of our budget needs to go out to serve our customers."
Metrobus driver Ken Hart said the Messenger Drive depot is a huge improvement over the 50-year-old building it replaces.
"Obviously it's a more modern facility. There's more bells and whistles that the old place doesn't have," Hart said.