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Sustainability, green design main focuses of new SLO County transit facility

Rachel Showalter
The San Luis Obispo Regional Transit Authority recently celebrated the grand opening of its new bus operations and maintenance facility.

The San Luis Obispo County Regional Transit Authority (RTA) recently celebrated the grand opening of a new bus operations and maintenance facility, which the agency says is climate-friendly and zero-emission.

According to Stantec, the company that designed the $17 million facility, it was built with growth and sustainability in mind amid the ongoing climate crisis.

“The biggest thing is definitely that we really embraced the zero-emission aspect of it,” said Stantec Senior Associate Will Todd.

He said one of Stantec's first decisions was to opt out of on-site diesel fueling.

“We took that off the project and we said, ‘Look, let's really embrace this and say there’s no on-site fueling. We’re gonna make this facility electric-vehicle ready as much as possible, set this thing up for success in the future and minimize rework,’” Todd said.

He said they also removed natural gas from the building design.

“It’s not required for commercial work but we really tried to jump ahead on that and made this an all electric facility,” Todd said.

The facility is also built to accommodate enough solar panels to offset the building’s power demands.

Mary Gardner with the RTA said the agency is tracking power usage during its first year using the building and then it plans to install the panels.

“What is the supply chain going to be doing next year? I don’t know," Gardner said. "But once we know our number, our plan is to install the panels.”

Gardner said the RTA plans to purchase two 40-foot electric buses next summer and expand the entire fleet to at least 80 all-electric vehicles by 2040. The new facility is already designed to be able to power them.

“It was built for the future," Gardner said. "It’s of course working for us right now. But we knew when we were building it that we had to design this whole building so that it would be useful for everybody and for the buses’ needs going forward.”

The new transit facility is on Elks Lane and Prado Road in San Luis Obispo. For more information about bus routes and schedules, click here.

Rachel Showalter first joined KCBX as an intern from Cal Poly in 2017. During her time in college, she anchored and reported for Mustang News at Cal Poly's radio station, KCPR. After graduating, she took her first job as a Producer at KSBY-TV. She returned to the KCBX team in October 2020, reporting daily for KCBX News until she moved to the Pacific Northwest in July of 2022. Rachel spends her off-days climbing rocks, cooking artichokes and fighting crosswords with friends.