SunLine Transit Agency welcomed the Acting Administrator of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), K. Jane Williams, to its Thousand Palms Headquarters on Tuesday for a special press conference. The FTA granted funds to enhance workforce development, including its grant supporting SunLine Transit Agency’s West Coast Center of Excellence in Zero Emission Technology.
The FTA provided the West Coast Center of Excellence in Zero Emission Technology with a $300,000 grant through the National Fuel Cell Bus Program. This grant will allow SunLine Transit Agency to develop a comprehensive training program for the transit industry.
The second phase of funding has allocated $1.5 million through the FTA’s Low and No Emission Bus Program. The grant will be used to build the country’s first transit maintenance bay designed from the ground up for zero emission buses (ZEBs) to support growing ZEB fleets.
“It’s important for us to partner with transit agencies like Sunline Transit who is very forward-thinking in how they have set up this training program to train the workforce of the future,” Williams said.
The facility will be capable of pulling in a 60-foot articulated bus for maintenance training and demonstrations. The building will also have classrooms for training courses where administration topics will be covered, such as finance and leadership engagement.
“California is leading the country in rules about clean energy and clean vehicles,” Lauren Skiver, CEO/General Manager of SunLine Transit Agency, said. “We’re going to be right there to train folks for those jobs.”
Williams said the training programs and new facility will increase job opportunities in the Coachella Valley exponentially.
“Many of the students graduating today are looking at innovation and they like technology and you can see how technology is changing many industries, not just transportation,” she said. “I think you see an up-tick of students graduating who want to work in that field.”
Sunline’s Deputy Chief Operating Officer of Maintenance, Demetrius Genera has worked with the company for almost 30 years and said he is in favor of the transforming systems at Sunline.
“Everyone has a lot to learn and it’s just wonderful to know that we’re here to teach and we’re here to learn the latest technology of zero emissions and the hydrogen projects.”
The facility should be built in the next two years. Courses will be open for Transit Agency enrollment in Fall 2019. Visit this website for more information: https://www.sunline.org/alternative-fuels/west-coast-center-of-excellence-in-zero-emission-technology