School district officials broke ground on the station Oct. 30, but held a formal media ceremony this week. The new station, which will include two storage tanks, is expected to be completed between late January and mid-February, said Transportation Director Keith Moore.
The bus yard will have two storage tanks: one located at the front that will serve the public, with pumps operating at a fast-fill rate, and a second inside to serve the 15 CNG buses in the fleet. District officials said the station would be able to fill 25 buses in a 10-hour period.
“My district’s Board of Education has been very supportive of this project, and I’m all for it. The [CNG] buses are running good, and I love it,” he said. “It takes the dirty buses out of the equation.”
The remaining 28 yellow buses in the fleet are diesel and gasoline. Moore began converting his fleet in 2011. With funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, also known as the stimulus package, he was able to purchase four CNG special needs buses.
Then he applied for grant money for more CNG buses through the South Coast Air Quality Management District’s school bus replacement program, which aims to replace pre-1994 diesel school buses with cleaner-burning CNG or propane buses, as well as retrofit existing diesel buses with particulate matter traps and install necessary fueling infrastructure. He received six 70-passenger, transit-style CNG buses last year, replacing his 1981 model-year Crown buses. And on Oct. 28, Moore took delivery of five more CNG buses. (Moore, pictured left, shows Superintendent Ruben Frutos one of the district’s new CNG school buses.)
Moore expects to apply for SCAQMD’s next school bus replacement next year to replace four more buses. Eventually the plan is to upgrade the station with an additional compressor and expand to 33 CNG buses.
Rowland USD provides student transportation for close to 1,400 regular and special education students. Bussing for regular education students is based on a semester-based parent pay program.