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Lawmakers approve bus maintenance facility funds

June 27, 2001|By RUDY YNIGUEZ, Staff Writer

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Money for a county-owned compressed natural gas bus maintenance facility was authorized by the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

A $59.1 billion fiscal 2002 transportation bill includes $500,000 for the local facility.

County Supervisor Gary Wyatt said county representatives traveled to Washington in March to seek, among other requests, money for the facility.

"The whole effort is to expand the CNG effort in the Valley to improve air quality," Wyatt said. "To do that we needed a maintenance facility."

The county already owns a CNG refueling station in El Centro on Commercial Avenue, and the maintenance facility is envisioned for an adjacent lot.

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The idea for a maintenance facility was brought to the Imperial Valley Association of Governments by Thousand Palms-based SunLine Transit Agency, whose general manager and chief executive officer estimated it would cost about $500,000 to build the facility.

SunLine has obtained 10 CNG buses for use in the county.

Supervisor Hank Kuiper, the county's representative on IVAG, said the bill still faces hurdles.

"We're hopeful the Senate and the president will move forward on it," Kuiper said this morning.

Kuiper said the county expects local air quality to improve by using the CNG buses and to save money, as CNG is cheaper than diesel and gasoline.

Staff Writer Rudy Yniguez can be reached at 337-3440.

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