Janesville transit center geared for next 50 years

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Neil Johnson
Friday, August 15, 2014

JANESVILLE—After 10 years of planning and nearly $8 million in federal and city funding, Janesville's new Transit Services Center is a go.

Residents who have driven by and seen the construction of the facility that perches on a knoll at the corner of Highway 51 and Black Bridge Road might wonder what $6.6 million in federal money and $1.3 million in city spending bought them—whether or not they have ever set foot on a green and white Janesville Transit Service bus.

In advance of a public tour Next Wednesday to kick off operations at the new facility, Transit Director Dave Mumma gave The Gazette a preview of the new facility.

The following are some features of the new transit center that Mumma says will gear the facility to function as the city's bus transit center for the next 50 years:  

1.) The facility in full is 40,000 square feet. That's more than twice the size of the former transit center at 900 N. Parker Drive, which was 53 years old.

One big upgrade: The size of the bus and fleet storage garage. It's about 21,000 square feet—the size of a full-scale hockey rink. It's built to hold all of the city's 17 transit buses at once. Unlike the former transit center, buses won't have to be wedged crossways in lanes between buses.

Mumma said there is 35 feet of extra space on the north end of the facility's lot—enough to expand the garage area to eventually fit up to 30 buses.

2.) The bus garage's maintenance, storage garage and bus-cleaning areas not only have an automated fluid and fuel refill system and bus wash bay, but heated floors to melt snow from buses and keep workers warm at a lower cost.

The garage also is equipped for future installation of compressed natural gas systems.

Mumma says that's because the city could decide in two to five years whether to upgrade its bus fleet to buses that run on compressed natural gas.

It could cost an additional $2.5 million to add natural gas systems that would fuel buses. Mumma said new buses cost about $450,000, but they now can be fitted to run off natural gas for an up-charge of about $35,000. That's down from a $100,000 up-charge a few years ago.

3.) The maintenance garage has a welding room that's enclosed. That, along with all furnace units being located on the roof, is another feature that was designed to accommodate compressed natural gas systems.

Mumma said the maintenance area is set up so that buses can pull in through the storage garage, and it has three bus lifts along with a separate bay for steam cleaning of bus engines.

Along with re-use of a number of tools and equipment, the city is pulling one bus lift from the former garage and reassembling it at the new garage. Mumma said that lift is only four years old, and moving it will save about $40,000.

4.) Administrative workspace at the new facility is much improved in terms of space. Behind wood doors are separate offices for the four administrative supervisors who run transit services. Formerly, those supervisors shared offices, doubling up in rooms at the former transit center.

One supervisor said he was glad he finally had his own file cabinets.

A public entrance is wheelchair accessible, and the service center has 16 security cameras.

“That's part of a lot of this center being tied to federal money. The federal government is still very, very concerned with security,” Mumma said.

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