Transit HQ gets green award

SAINT JOHN - Built to last at least 50 years and use less energy than other buildings its size, Saint John Transit's new headquarters was officially opened Tuesday morning with a ribbon cutting, tours and a barbecue.

                                        

Coun. Chris Titus, chairman of the Saint John Transit Commission, snips a ribbon to officially open Saint John Transit’s new headquarters Tuesday. Left to right are Saint John Transit general manager Frank McCarey, provincial Transportation Minister Denis Landry, Mayor Ivan Court, Titus, Saint John MP Rodney Weston and Tony Freake, president of the bus drivers union.

The $23.5-million centre, which has the capacity to wash, repair, rebuild and even paint buses, was officially brought into service by federal, provincial and municipal politicians, along with a crowd more than 100 people. They gathered outside the spaceship-shaped entryway attached to the more utilitarian box-like garage spaces.

"Roly MacIntyre, when he gets something built in his riding, it's usually the biggest and the best," Mayor Ivan Court joked, in reference to the Saint John East Liberal MLA.

"Some people confuse this with the airport, but it's bigger than the airport."

The building, which replaces the former transit centre on Fairville Boulevard, cost the city about $10 million, with the rest of the money coming from the federal and provincial governments, Court said.

"A lot of great things have taken place in Saint John in the last year and it's only because the three levels of government have realized they have to give back to the same taxpayer," Court said.

Provincial Transportation Minister Denis Landy congratulated the city and transit commission on the new centre.

"When you consider that one bus can remove 40 cars from our roads and eliminate the need for 40 parking spaces, there is no doubt that this service has a positive impact on the environment and the quality of life in the city of Saint John," Landry said.

The federal government was the biggest contributor to the project after the City of Saint John. Ottawa provided $8.1 million toward construction costs and another $4.8 million toward the purchase of 19 new buses, Saint John MP Rodney Weston said.

"Now, more than ever, we need to invest in quality infrastructure that will ensure Saint John, our province and our country have the capacity to grow and prosper," Weston said.

Court said the sale of the land on the west side, where the old transit garage was located, to a company that has put in several stores, means it will now generate taxes for the city that will go toward paying for the new transit centre.

Elizabeth Weir, president and CEO of Efficiency New Brunswick, presented the Saint John Transit Commission with a plaque to recognize the extra effort put into reducing the environmental impact of the new building.

The new transit centre includes a high efficiency heating system, low wattage lighting, a solar wall and the ability to collect rain water collectors from the roof to wash the buses.

"The new operation centre should expect to operate with an estimated 50 per cent energy savings," Weir said.

It sets a new standard for all new commercial construction in New Brunswick, she said.

Inside, the garage area is divided into two separate areas, one for storage of buses and the other for maintenance. The solar wall along the storage side collects hot air when the sun is shining and puts it into the heating system.

Every bus coming in from a run enters an automated wash area, where the rain water is used. The bus is then fueled for the next run. There are areas dedicated to repairs, with hydraulic lifts capable of handling even the new articulated buses. There is also a paint shop, which is closed off and vented separately from the rest of the building, where buses can be repainted.

"This building was necessary because we outgrew the other facility. The other facility was completely inadequate," said city councillor Chris Titus, chairman of the transit commission.

"Probably the best example of how inadequate it was, when you look at the paint booth over there, we were doing things that we quite frankly shouldn't have been doing at a building that was never designed for transit."

                                      

Body repair technician Ernie McNeill welds a city bus in the new Saint John Transit Building on MacDonald Street, which had it's official opening on Tuesday.

 

Published Wednesday September 9th, 2009 - Telegraph Journal