EL PASO,Texas - A major addition to Sun Metro in east El Paso is almost complete.
On May 2, officials said a new maintenance facility at 10151 Montana will be fully operational for the majority of Sun Metro's fleet of buses.
ABC-7 got the first exclusive tour of
The facility sits on 35.5 acres of land and totaled nearly $38 million to build.
Michael Herrera, assistant director of planning and safety, told ABC-7 the eastside location was chosen to accommodate the growth of Sun Metro and the city.
"We had no place to expand, there was no space for us to really grow. And this is where it was the best fit," said Herrera.
The current bus depot for Sun Metro is located in downtown El Paso.
The downtown bus depot will not be abandoned, 30% of Sun Metro's fleet will continue to operate in its current location.
Amenities include a more than 95,000 sq. ft. facility where buses will be repaired, training rooms for employees, wash and fuel stations.
"We have our own power plant, we're producing our very own gas. Before we were having to truck in our fuel, we now produce it here on our premises," said Herrera.
For Sun Metro, it's all about location.
"it provided us a source, a natural gas source. All we did is tap into that line, as a result we partnered up with Texas Energy and Clean Energy," said Herrera.
Clean Energy built the plant at Sun Metro. Herrera said there are plans in the works to offer the gas being produced to the public.
"That's in the near future," he said.
The addition of the energy efficient facility also means more buses to Sun Metro's fleet.
"We are set to receive our first set of articulated buses towards the end of this month. They're actually for our rapid transit system," said Herrera.
The rapid transit system is also known as 'Brio' that will add more buses to some of the busiest streets in El Paso like Montana Avenue, Mesa Street, Alameda Avenue and Dyer Street.
Sun Metro 'Brio' will introduce residents to a high-quality transit service that offers
benefits similar to a light rail transit system.
Herrera said Sun Metro has worked to change the perception of public transportation in El Paso and the public has responded.
"Our ridership has steadily increased to the tune of 8% each year," he said.
The building of the new facility could also impact economic development in the area, according to Herrera.
He said Sun Metro officials have noticed businesses opened up near the newest terminals or terminals that have been remodeled.
"A lot of the blighted commercial real estate in the areas where we have built, you go back now and see all new buildings and new businesses," said Herrera.
The next few weeks, the final touches will be made and bus drivers will begin reporting to the new location a day before the grand opening.
"We have definetely changed the face of Sun Metro and we're very proud of the fact. You can see it in this new facility,"said Herrera.